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WORLD SPEED-READING RECORD HOLDER FLOYD PATTERSON 
INADVERTENTLY BREAKS THE SOUND BARRIER . 




Wordeater 74 Staff 

Holly Bruns, Jeff DeGrave. Maria Mellinger. Andrew Pritchara*. Virginia Strouse. John Stobart 

In order to get a selection published in this issue, four of the above had to vote for acceptance. 
For the award winners, only John Stobart is responslMe. 



Manuscripts or cover designs for 



wordeaber 7 U 

must be submitted to John 
Stobart in room C-1069 by: 

February 22, 1991 

Manuscripts will not be returned 
and should by typed. 





AWARDS 



POETRY 

$ 15 to Maria Mellinger 
$ 5 to Holly Bruns 
$ 5 to Jeff DeGrave 

PROSE 

$ 15 to Holly Bruns 
$ 5toLoraBaker 
$ 5 to Chad Elmore 

COVERS 

$ 20 to Dave Gardner 




Next Deadlines: 

February 22, 1991 
April 26, 1991 



All copyrights are retained by the authors, and materials may not be reprinted without their permission 




i 



TABL JF CONTENTS 

Maria Mellinger Y Used to Tell Me 



Julie Haggerty 
Jeff DeGrave 
Maria Mellinger 
Jeff DeGrave 
Maria Mellinger 
Jeff DeGrave 



Gai£» 

Never Could I Ever 

When You Leave 

Ititis 

To Love A Dark Horse 

Fear 



NOTE: The preceding were accepted far WORDEATER 73 
but ipice limitation* prevented their being printed in that Utue. 



Maria Mellinger 


This Is Larry's Story 


4 


Judy Belfield 


A Jungle End 


6 


Maria Mellinger 


Two Strangers 


7 


Connie Legters 


The Siege 


7 


Jeff DeGrave 


Subliminal Message? 


8 


Maria Mellinger 


Rain 


8 


Maria Mellinger 


I Had Begun 


8 


Holly Bruns 


Lidocaine Life 


8 


Judy Belfield 


Impressionism 


10 


Maria Mellinger 


Garage Floor Barefoot 


10 


Jeff DeGrave 


Boy, I'm In A Pickle 


11 


Bethany Jackson 


The Vase 


11 


Maria Mellinger 


I Caught Your Voice 


11 


Lora Baker 


Words 


12 


Maria Mellinger 


Through The Green 


12 


Barbara Pillasch 


Gay Blade I Gay Blade U 


12 


Jeff DeGrave 


I Will Write About Nothing 


12 


Shane Van Veghel 


A Man Once Had A Dream 


12 


Jeff DeGrave 


The Latest In Haikus 


12 


Judy Belfield 


Driftings 


13 


Maria Mellinger 


This Time 


13 


Jeff DeGrave 


Helen Keller Haiku 


13 


Shannon Greenwalt The Presence 


14 


Shenon Wright 


Tips For More Interesting Living 


14 


Maria Mellinger 


On The Anniversary Of My Car 


14 


Jeff DeGrave 


I Don't Care 


14 


Maria Mellinger 


The Environment Was Sleeping 


15 


Bethany Jackson 


Fire 


15 


Barbara Pillasch 


Leaf Drift 


15 


Carol Spinabella 


Conventional Love Poem? 


15 


Maria Mellinger 


Please Don't Hide Your Hands 


15 


Rich Transon 


Unbeliever 


15 


Maria Mellinger 


I Unplugged My Alarm Clock 


17 


Judy Belfield 


A Little Worse For Wear 


18 


Jeff DeGrave 


Apostxophitis 


18 


Holly Bruns 


Mail Armor 


18 


Barbara Pillasch 


Arrival 


19 


Maria Mellinger 


I'm Not An English Ideal 


19 


Jeff DeGrave 


Every Snowflake 


19 


Barbara Pillasch 


Ah-Choo 


19 


Connie Legters 


Lost? 


20 


Barbara Pillasch 


Knock-Knock 


20 


Robert Franklin 


I'm Standing At The Window 


20 


Carol Spinabella 


Ode To Smokers 


20 


Holly Bruns 


Italian Novocaine 


21 


Holly Bruns 


Elizabethan Novocaine 


21 



Holly Bruns 
Shannon Greenwalt 
Maria Mellinger 
Judy Belfield 
Maria Mellinger 
June Johnson 
Maria Mellinger 
Chad Elmore 
Maria Mellinger 
Maria Mellinger 
Holly Bruns 
Maria Mellinger 
Holly Bruns 
Maria Mellinger 
Linda Simmons 
Judy Belfield 
Maria Mellinger 
Jeff DeGrave 
Maria Mellinger 
Jeff DeGrave 
Connie Legters 
Maria Mellinger 
Carol Spinabella 
Maria Mellinger 
Maria Mellinger 
Sailor 
Lora Baker 
Maria Mellinger 
Barbara Pillasch 
Holly Bruns 
Maria Mellinger 
Shannon Greenwalt 
Carol Spinabella 
Maria Mellinger 
Jeff DeGrave 
Maria Mellinger 
Carol Spinabella 
Maria Mellinger 
Maria Mellinger 
Barbara Pillasch 
Maria Mellinger 
Connie Legters 
Barbara Pillasch 
Maria Mellinger 
Barbara Pillasch 
Maria Mellinger 
Maria Mellinger 
Maria Mellinger 
Maria Mellinger 
Maria Mellinger 
Jeff DeGrave 
Maria Mellinger 
Barbara Pillasch 
Maria Mellinger 
Jeff DeGrave 



Novocaine Villanelle 21 

Fantasia 21 

After A Night Of Music 2 1 

Harangue Meringue 22 

Her Calendar Is Filled 22 

Zippers 22 

A Very Short Story 22 

So Close But So Far Away 22 

Quilting 25 

Scream As If Giving Birth 25 

Vanish 26 

I Can Pluck 26 

Fishing The Unknown Water 26 

I Wish I Could Swim 27 

Sluefoot 27 

Standstill 27 

It All Sounds 27 
There Once Was A Limerick To Be 28 

In Silent Emptiness 28 

Haiku For Psychics 28 

A Sleep-Tape 28 

I Touch The Freckle 28 

Notorious 28 

My Dolphin 29 
Nonsense For Mr. Lennon, M.B.E. 29 

Thunder 30 

A Seven Year Old Hero 3 

I'm Obsessed 3 1 

Ghosts? 3 1 

The Final Autumn Day 3 1 

You Throw Things 3 1 

Untitled 3 1 

Mine 32 

Afraid 32 
You Have Become The Heartbeat 33 

In The Early Morning Hours 33 

The Awakening 33 

Theodora 35 

I Met This Boy 35 

Haiku 35 

Sixteen Candles + Four 35 

A Blue Silk Grave 36 

Stand-in 36 

For Jerry, Andy, And Me 37 

A Convening 37 

I Would Talk To You 37 

I Can Remember 37 

I Need To See You Again 3 7 

Lead Yourself 38 

Even The Quietest 3 8 

Echo Canyon Haiku 38 

Because I'm In The Habit 38 

The Rain Fell Incessantly 38 

I Transform Myself 3 8 

The Japs 38 



NOTE: Again, apace hat prevented the appearance of all items 
accepted for this iisue. Look for work by Holly Brunt, Jeff DeGrave, 
Connie Legtert, and Maria Mellinger in WORDEATER 75. 



JeffDeGrave 
NEVER COULD I EVER 



Maria Mellinger 
YOU USED TO TELL ME 

You used to tell me I was 

Your eyes because you could see now, 

Your lips because you could breathe now. 

Your heart because you could feel now.,.. 

Now 

I'm some collection of muscles 

That enable you to walk away. 

Julie Haggerty 
GATES 

Like a galloping horse 
I run through this life 
Jumping gates that are closed 

Sometimes I trip or fall 

into the mud 

but I clean myself off 

and learn from my mistakes 

I would watch others 

but I can't learn from them 

what I can not feel 

Sometimes I soar the gates 
and look back and smile 
until I find myself 
wrapped up in steel wire 

One has to laugh at life 

to get out alive 

screaming won't help cut wire 

With a little luck 

we'll make it past the gates 

with a little pain 

we may learn on the way 



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THE SOLUTION: 

Never — 

Could I every give you up. 

It is you who means more 

Than any gift of Reason. 

A carefully crafted conscious mind 

Could never carve what you create. 

Reason winds and whirls like cyclone winds— 
Displacing and replacing what I naturally know 
With worldly facts. 

1 can think the thoughts that Einstein brought 
Or break those puzzles that dare me to solve 
0t those rules of life I must follow. 

But in you I carry myself back— 

The beginning 

Seeing things as I wish 

You are the path— camouflaged brilliance 

It's in only that of you 

Who'll know me such as I... 

(PS. You can figure out the rest.) 



««««»»»» 



W-.mer. ; 990-91 



Wordeatcr74 



Mar Mellinger 
WHEN YOU LEAVE 



When you leave I have 
Tears like old wooden 
Carnival horses 
That no longer glide 
Gracefully 

Down their golden bars, 
But clatter and bang 
Past the brass ring. 

JeffDeGrave 

ITITIS 

Ititis Ititis 

Its become my disease 
Its assumed all control 
Somebody cure me please 
I hope its not catching 
'Cos its afflicted me 
Its become my cocaine 
I'm addicted you see 

But without its presence 
I'd have nothing to write 
Its kind of a craving 
But its still my delight 
I got a little niche 
Burned right into my brain 
Its feeble attraction 
From which I can't abstain 

Its not really that bad 

Its never going to leave 

Its taken my power 

I've now learned to believe 

Its become my little act 

Its fantastic this way 

Its really no big deal 

I guess its all I have to say... 

Maria Mellinger 

TO LOVE A DARK HORSE 

As they push me down the hallway in this 
uncomfortable hospital bed I watch the fluorescent lights 
flicker by. Each one that passes brings me closer to the 

Worde*ter74 



delivery room and I wonder if I'd had an abortion, would 
I have seen the lights like this? They look like too- 
bright lightening bugs, the kind that always escaped the 
mayonnaise jar fat of the weak. If I had gone to an 
abortion clinic, would they have wheeled me into the 
room or would I have walked into that most sterile of 
environments head down, watching my feet at work on 
the floor? 

They have these same fluorescent lights in 
schools. I remember staring up into them, I think in the 
fourth grade, waiting for my eyes to burn. I liked 
looking away and seeing black spots or inverted 
photographs of what I had been watching. Sometimes I 
could complain to the nurse of headaches and get sent 
home. They even had me checked for eyeglasses, I 
complained so much, but if I had just looked away I 
would have been fine. 

Throughout junior high I looked at the ceiling 
to avoid the eyes all around me. Lights will illuminate 
you no matter what your circumstances; the same glow 
was felt by cheerleaders, freaks, and library dwellers who 
tried to seep into the darkened bindings of books. 

Later, in high school, I left the lights behind. 
So much more happens in the dark. So many promises. 
The first time I had sex, the entire house was 
dark. The boy's parents weren't home, so we became 
adults on the living room sofa with the television as our 
only witness. It was a black and white television, I 
remember that, because it distracted me from his smell 
and the noises he made. It gave off such a faint glow 
that I couldn't tell the color of the carpeting immediately 
in front of it 

He drove me home and I watched the headlights 
of each oncoming car like a frightened deer, wondering 
which were high beams and which were low and if it 
really mattered since the car would eventually hit me 
either way. He kissed me at every stop sign we came to. 
but I didn't really care. He told me he loved when my 
porchlight came in view from around the corner. 

That night I burned candles, which give off 
such a different light, but painful all the same. I traced 
the shadows thrown on my walls and made fingerprints 
in the little wax puddles, remembering a story our 
English teacher read once, about a moth that flies into a 
candle and becomes the candle's wick. I wanted to fly 
into candles or become the filament in an ordinary bulb 
and escape my darkness. 

Instead I slept with that boy in the darkness 
until I believed it was something special. I loved him. 



**** 



We spent years in the shadows of school dances, 

(continued) 

Winter. 1990-91 



To Love A Dark Horse, continued 



the fog of meeting each other's family, the muriciness of 
one another. Once, he accidentally said he would many 
me. I became excited, thinking that our gloom could be 
cured by a wedding-^all that white reflecting into the 
comers of our selves. He even bought me a cloudy little 
diamond (my hands have been so swollen these past 
months that I don't wear it). 

Maybe he recognized the absence of light too. 
Sometimes we wouldn't talk for days, not fighting, not 
noticing each other outwardly. I would curl into the 
fetal position under all my bedcovers. I imagined him 
sitting on the sofa in his parents' house; if he was really 
there, I don't know. Eventually our sweaty starved 
bodies would find each other again, and the tension 
would evaporate with the moistness on the middle of his 
back. 

Other times it was almost like being happy. He 
could become that flame I wanted to burn in or the glow 
I kept squinting to see. We could love each other when 
we tried. 

He told me that if I ever got pregnant, he would 
marry me. We were going to be married anyway; what 
would a few months earlier hurt? He would tell me that 
and I would hide my head where his neck and shoulder 
met, away from the shimmer of his lie, into the truth of 
his body. 



**** 



The hospital hallway spits me out and I'm in that 
room now, where they'll pull this burden out of my 
body and into the day. They're putting my feet into 
stirrups and the only place for me to look is the ceiling 
light. They're so bright they must cut clear through my 
belly and into the baby. No wonder it won't come 
out— it's safe in the darkness inside me. When the pain 
comes I clench my eyes like fists and see those fourth 
grade spots again. The difference is these nurses won't 
send me home. They've seen my kind before. 

That's what the lady at the abortion clinic said. 
"We've seen your kind before.** She said she wished 
she'd had a penny for each girl that came in crying, "He 
said he loved me." I wanted to ask, "Isn't the payment 
enough? Do you need our pennies of humiliation?" 

That woman wouldn't have pushed me down a 
lighted hallway. She wouldn't have wiped my forehead 
the way this nurse is doing now. "What's wrong with 
me?" I ask her, and she says, "Nothing. It's like this for 
everyone." 

I almost laugh. Everyone? He's at home right 
now, sitting on that same sofa, watching that dim little 
television. I always thought I'd be better alone, but he 

Wordeater 74 , 



turned off the lights that first night with such 
determination. I've been afraid all this time to look back 
into them. I've ignored the fluorescents all around me. 
I only stare at them now because they're so high above 
this bed, removed from all the pain. 

When I told him I was pregnant, he said, "We 
can't get married now. It's not the right time." 

I said, "We were going to get married anyway..." 

He didn't answer me. "There are other things you 
can do." 

"You mean get rid of it?" 

Silence. Dark and terrible silence. 

"Ican'tdothaCIsaid. "It's ours. It's yours— " 

"It's not the right time." 

A few days later he gave me half the abortion 
money and said to call him when it was all over. I 
haven't called all these months. He said he loved me, 
but my phone's not ringing. 



**** 



I have this dream that when all this is over with 
he'll visit me in the hospital. He'll see our baby and say 
he was wrong — thank God I didn't go through with the 
abortion. We'll get married and live with 60-watt bulbs 
in every room of our house and a 20-inch color 
television to better view the carpeting with. 

There's also a nightmare I have where we 
accidentally meet outside the grocery store or something 
like that He sees the child in my arms but it doesn't 
change anything. My bag full of bulbs and flashlight 
batteries fall suicidally toward the pavement "I would 
have married you," he says, "but it just wasn't the right 
time." 

I remember another story our English teacher read 
once, called "A Place of Light." I forgot everything 
except that title. What I wouldn't do for a little place of 
light all my own. The dark has gotten so depressing. 

Another pain comes and I don't know what's 
happening to me. The doctor says, 'This might be the 
last one now." All I know is these lights in here are so 
damn bright and this hurts so much, but I'm going to 
keep my eyes open. I want to see the light 



**** 



The doctor says, "One more push... 



««««»»»» 



Wimer. 1990-91 



JeffDeGrave 
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Maria Mellinger 

THIS IS LARRY'S STORY- 
HE WANTS IT TOLD 

I had this dream last night that Larry wasn't dead. 
I was at the cemetery looking at his grave when I 
realized there's no body down there. There's a plot of 
dirt or maybe an empty coffin, but nothing else. The 
tombstone is there so we may find the grave. But Larry 
is not there. 

I went to the nursing home I used to work at and 
searched through the directory of names. Under A 
rooms— people who could still get about on their 
own— nothing. Under B rooms— the second floor, for 

Wordeater 74 



people who needed watching— nothing. Under H— the 
hospital section of the second floor — his name, room 
3H. 

Hospital? I thought. Has he been in a coma all 
this time? 

I ask the nun behind the registration desk if 
Larry's really up there. Knowingly, she smiles and says, 
"Yes, he is." 

"Can I see him?" 

(continued) 

Wimer, 1990-91 



Larry's Story, continued 

"Yes, you may." And she leads me up the stairs I 
used to walk with trays in hand, pureed food in little 
pockets of the dish, vitamin drinks of curdled milk 
thickness bumping against the sides of the styrofoam 
cups. Please don't feed Larry that kind of food, I 
thought. He's not like the old people here, waiting for 
death the way they wait for dinner, wondering which will 
come sooner today. 

When we look in the doorway of his room we see 
him asleep in bed, blanket pulled so that I can't see his 
face, light rushing in each of the three windows, 
particles and beams bounding into one another in their 
hurry, shooting dust in all directions. 
"The coma...?" I whisper. 
"No," the nun answers. "He's just resting. No 
one visits him here. He sleeps most of the time." 

To give him time to wake up, I guess then I go 
downstairs and visit the people I used to work with. I do 
steal into the kitchen, however, to glance at Larry's diet 
card. It has a little gray dot in the comer and I feel much 
more comfortable. That dot means he's eating regular 
food, not the meals of the aged and infirm. 

When I'm outside his room again he's sitting up 
in a chair. He's covered by that same blanket, with a 
naked leg and the chest of a ten-year-old boy visible. He 
has fluffy brown bangs teasing his eyelashes and the 
puffy cheeks of a child actor. He was 19 years old the 
night he slipped into a coma, but today he is not even a 
teenager. 

"Do you remember me?" I ask, and think of 
explaining. I only met you once, I'd say, not counting 
the funeral. We passed a few times in the hallways or 
on sidewalks, but I don't like people much and pay little 
attention to the living. I've become much closer to you 
since then. I know so much more about you now. I 
probably love you. 

But I don't explain and he doesn't answer. He 
leans his head on his chubby left hand— it's probably 
swollen from the coma— like a little boy in a cereal 
commercial. 

A few minutes later he's dressed in pajamas. We 
used to be the same age, but now here he is pushing a 
toy truck across the carpeted floor. I can't tell if he has 
escaped all the years that caused him trouble or if the 
coma has made him a child again. Has he been to high 
school yet? Will he have to die again? Or is this what 
time does to you when you don't move— it rewinds and 
stops when something, a childhood memory of 
happiness maybe, catches? Is the 19-year-old Larry still 
inside this child? 

We start playing and I try to talk to him like an 

Worksite* 74 5 



adult in terms of his childish ear understands. I want to 
hold him, but if he's a child I'm not his mother, and if 
he's the 19-year-old I met once, I'm not his girlfriend. 
I'm not sure what I am or why I'm here. 

But he's alive. Larry is alive and all I can think 
is why isn't anyone visiting him? Why isn't anyone 
with him? They must have forgotten the grave is 
empty. 

It's time for me to leave, so I tell him I'll visit 
tomorrow. I can't remember if he's happy because he 
moves back into that chair and leans on his hand again. 
The nun, however, pats me on the back like a good girl 
and says, "He has no other visitors. You must come 
back." 

From my car, I can see him in one of the 
windows, 19 years old again, waving goodbye. 

I wake up. For an instant, I believe the dream- 
Larry is alive somewhere— but I blink and the weighty 
truth hits me, almost pushing me back into the pillows. 
I feel like the blood inside my heart has solidified and 
dropped deep into my chest Larry is dead. 

I would cry, but I try not to. My fiancee is alive 
and I love him very much. My brother is alive. There 
have been no deaths in my family that we couldn't pick 
ourselves up after, put the puzzle back together and 
match the picture on the box. That chunk of solid blood 
in my body whispers to me that I love Larry too. And 
Larry is dead with no solution to the puzzle and no 
photographs left behind. 

Yet whenever I write about him we become 
closer. I'd like to tell him, I'm beginning to feel like I 
know you better than anyone, that you speak through 
me, that I only say what you want heard. Of course, I'm 
wrong. People loved you in life. They have the 
advantage. 

Later that day I visited Larry's grave. A young 
tree grows at his feet, beloved son and brother is written 
at his head. There is nothing written defining a 
relationship between the two of us. Perhaps the only 
relationship is in my mind. I feel connected, though, 
sitting to the side of his grave, explaining. 

I know that he has visitors. I know how his 
girlfriend looks toward the cemetery when we drive past 
I know how his sister expects to hear his footsteps on 
the stairs at their house. I know how his friends may 
read this and wonder who I am, why I dream of a 
friendship I never had. 

I know Larry understands. 
There's a fresh grave a few feet away. I break off 
a flower from the arrangement and put it on Larry's 
stone between his name and the carved cross. I hope 
someone will see it there, the single white rose, and 

(continued) 

Winter, 1990-91 



Larry's Story, cor 4 

wonder who put it thers. Maybe they'll think it's a gift 
from him— a thank you for visiting, for remembering. 

I stand up and look away. Goodbye, I tell him. 
I'll be back again. 

JudyBelfield 

A JUNGLE END 

For weeks he had been stalking, floating 
noiselessly in his single-passenger boat through the 
dense jungle foliage, gliding stealthily, slowly, on the 
still, green water. Day after day, he watched, quietly 
paddling his craft around one ess-curve after another, 
coursing steadily through the immense leafy tunnel that 
choked the sun from the river. At times, he stopped 
bankside, the boat halting abruptly with a muffled thud 
against a lush growth of tall grass. Then, he would 
listen intendy to the incessant buzz of the jungle, the 
buzz of an infinite number of insects. He would listen, 
straining to hear the one sound he anticipated with such 
passion. Day after day, the buzz began in a whisper, 
then grew and grew as the afternoon heat thickened. 

When he returned to camp each night, his 
eardrums threatened to explode; the buzz roared round 
him as he lay in his tent waiting for sleep, then 
continued its deafening cadence in his dreams. 

If he didn't find one soon, he would go mad from 
the buzzing, he was sure. If not the buzzing, the 
humidity, the thick, sweetsalt humidity sucking out his 
breath hour after hour, day after day. 

On the third day of the fourth week, he finally 
heard it— a soft splash just ahead. His body stiffened; 
sweat glistening sheen on his face and chest. He waited. 
The buzz was reaching crescendo. Had he imagined the 
splash? Was his mind playing tricks? 

He waited, rigid, barely breathing. Then, almost 
inaudibly, another soft splash lapped. He turned his head 
slowly in its direction and saw a trail of water parting in 
a gentle swath. The swath quivered, then rippled quietly 
back together again, leaving a blurred line shivering 
silently over the path of his prey. 

The hunter smiled, squelching his desire to scream 
for joy, a desire that raced through all the nerves in his 
skin, a desire that grabbed his stomach and squeezed it 
like a python wrapped around a piglet He might have 
squealed, were he not experienced. Adrenalin bristled 
inside him. 

If he were more relaxed, he would have thought, 

Wordeater 74 



"Ah, after four weeks, success. Success!" But he wasn't 
relaxed. He seemed not to be thinking at all, merely 
reaching for his gun, slowly, quiedy, raising it to his 
shoulder, pulling back the firing hammer ever so 
gradually till it caught with an almost noiseless click. 
His hand moved down the stock as tenderly as a gloved 
caress of Incan pottery in a museum. His index finger 
locked in place on the trigger as he sighted down the 
barrel, slowly following the quivering line rippling 
across the river several yards in front of him. 

It wasn't just the money the horn would fetch, 
although the amount would be considerable. The money 
was a distant end, not nearly as rewarding as the hunt, 
not even faintly as exciting as this moment waiting for 
his chance to fire. 

These were the rarest kind of rhino; it was 
thought they numbered less than two-hundred, but an 
accurate count couldn't be made because the animals 
were exceedingly secretive. After massive slaughter of 
their herds, they seemed to have gone into hiding. It 
took weeks, sometimes even months, just to sight one. 

He had sighted one now, and it was a mere stone's 
throw away. 

He watched as the quivering line of water 
approached the shore. The tip of a horn poked through 
the river. The hunter's finger tensed on the trigger. 
Easy. ..easy, he whispered silendy. C'mon out nice and 
slow, baby, nice and slow. 

First the head, then the shoulders raised up out of 
the water as the animal climbed die bank. Its front legs 
appeared, then the bulk of a magnificent torso. It was 
huge, but one well-placed shot would drop it. 

Completely out of the water now, the rhino 
paused for a moment and slowly swung its head around. 
The animal faced the hunter, locking eyes with him. A 
split second later, he fired. The sound exploded through 
the jungle, followed by a sharp agonizing squeal. A hit! 

The hunter's blood raced, pounded in his temples. 
For a moment, the insect buzz stopped, replaced by the 
roar of a freight train in his ears — then nothing. A 
moment of jungle silence, as everything alive slopped to 
observe the sudden passing of one of its own. A dirge 
throbbed quick-tempo through the hunter "s veins. 

The rhino, still staring at the hunter, stood for a 
second unmoving, stood for a second that seemed an 
eternity. Then, trembling, its legs buckled and it crashed 
to the ground. 

As its body met the jungle floor, armor-plated 
skin fell away like the shell of a great cracked egg. A 
single-homed white stallion struggled free, raised up on 
its hind legs and snorted into the air. 

The hunter's eyes bulged wide. His gun fell 

(continued) 

Wmier. 1990-91 



A Jungle End, continued 

clattering into the boat, tripped, and fired a round into 
his skull. 

The unicorn snorted again, then galloped into the 
jungle. The buzz of insects roared. 

Maria Mellinger 

TWO STRANGERS 

Two strangers pass in the hall 

(Nice place, the hall...do you 

Come here often?) 

I think you had something to do 

With my birth twenty odd years ago, 

But I could be mistaken. 

Well, anyway, you're looking good 

(If not vaguely familiar), you know, 

And it was nice talking. 

Stop by my bedroom sometime or 

Gimme a call when you're in town 

(or in the kitchen, by the phone), 

Whatever, see ya 'round. 

Connie Legters 
THE SIEGE 

Carl rubbed his arm. That creep had really yanked 
him, abruptness of the attack, traumatic. He looked over 
at Polly, his sweet, cheerful Polly. She sat, white-faced 
behind tissue-clad fingers. Their eyes met, and timidly 
they touched souls. 

All right, they were safe. No one could get to 
them without cutting through the steel door with its two 
deadbolts. Carl's fear persisted.. .could he do that? 

Carl and Polly had moved to Golden Arms just 
three weeks ago, sold their belongings to raise the 
entrance fee. Now all they'd pay was a monthly rate, 
within means of their fixed income. No one had told 
them about the isolation. 

Their apartment was on the top floor. When 
they'd first heard, it pleased them because privacy was 
the one thing they'd never really had. First, it had been 
the kids, lively and full of youth, friends coming and 
going, places to go and things to do. All that had left 
with the children, but Carl was still working then, and a 
wave of liberated parents moved into their lives. It was 

Worde«ter 74 7 



cards, dinners, clubs, lots of involvement to keep them 
busy. 

Then, they had traveled for some years, depending 
on their family to keep an eye on home while they were 
gone. Finally, the road had gotten old to them, 
meanwhile friends drifted off, one way or another. The 
absurdity of the large home loomed over their practical 
heads, mortality came knocking at the door when Polly 
had a slight stroke. So against strong family 
opposition, the elderly couple sold the house, and made 
their move to the city to reside at the Golden Arms. 
Advertised as "adult apartments of shared commitments," 
the place had sounded just right for them at the time. 

Now, Polly made coffee and the two of them sat 
under the dining room light at the old maple table. 
Their eyes were riveted to the patio door leading to the 
balcony. 

"We can't go out there," Polly said in a whisper, 
as if their assailant could overhear what she said, "or he 
will see where we live and come after us." 

She was right and her husband knew it. Carl had 
always been a gentle man. Now, when he needed the 
aggression of youth, it lay hidden in fragility of age, 
hard to find. He would protect her. 

When the assault had come, the attacker was 
intent on harm. The bags of groceries lay behind on the 
first floor carpet as the fleeing couple rode skyward in 
the elevator, shaken and pale. No one had looked out to 
see their struggle. Instinct to survive had prompted Carl 
to push Polly ahead into the open elevator, then whirl 
and shove the man backward. The buttons felt like hot 
coals as he blindly banged for the doors to close. The 
creep's face was there.. .so close.. .when the elevator 
closed, and the couple rose from the clutches of harm. 

Carl and Polly sailed to several different floors 
before hitting the number five button. When, finally, 
Polly entered their apartment door, Carl continued on his 
solitary way to further cover their tracks. When he let 
himself into home, the two cried in frustration. Never 
had they been so threatened. 

The telephone hung halfway between the dining 
room and the kitchen. It was a decorator color with a 
long, hanging cord. Push buttons were white, and 
beckoned fingers to call for help. The terrified pair could 
not do that. They had been placed on the waiting list for 
telephone installation. 

'Well, Mommy," Carl said to his wife, "we can 
always live on beans." Polly smiled at the old 
expression used many times as the years had passed. 
when things had been difficult 

The apartment building beneath them felt like an 
enemy preparing to strike. Carl could see the attacker by 

(continued) 

Wutter. 1990-91 



The Siege, continued 



Maria Mellinger 



peering through the mini-blinds. The creep was 
opposite the apartment building, scanning all its 
windows to catch his victims looking for him. Polly 
tugged at Carl's sleeve, seeing the danger further 
threatening them even now safe within their home. 

"No, Carl," she said, "don't let him find us." 
Carl stepped back. The elderly couple had no 
acquaintances in the building. People were not very 
friendly, the reason now became clear. 

Eventually the telephone company would come, 
this was a certainty they clung to. They would be 
found, dead or still alive. And so Carl and Polly waited, 
listening to the hum of traffic five stories down. 



I HAD BEGUN 



I had begun to make 
My apologies when 
A blob of bubbles 
Emerged like 
A mouthful of Ivory 
After teaching Mom 
The word shit. 
Rinsing my sorries 
Into the sink. 



««««»»»» 



««««»»»» 



Holly Bruns 



JeffDeGrave 

SUBLIMINAL MESSAGE? 

Several years ago, the U.S. government passed a 
law saying the use of subliminal messages in 
advertising was illegal. But, if one uses subliminbal 
messages, then they can't be seen or proven. The 
government was saying these messages were causing 
people to do things they would not ordinarily do. I 
don't think these messages actually even exist HMPF! 
Next thing you know, they'll be saying college students 
use them in their homework.... 

Maria Mellinger 

RAIN 

Rain, in grade school, 

Meant that Mom would be 

Coming to get me 

In our rusty station wagon, 

Breaking the monotony of blackboards 

With a lunch of chicken soup, 

Grilled cheese sandwiches, 

And my shoes in the oven to dry. 



Worduler74 



LIDOCAINE LIFE 

By the time she was fifteen, Jenny was 
anesthetized about life. Nothing moved her. She had 
stopped feeling sadness years ago. Coincidentally, she 
had stopped feeling joy at the same time. She didn't 
even feel anger at the hopelessness. She hadn't cried 
since she was eight years old. Jenny lived in an 
emotional vacuum. The vacuum was sucking all the 
meaning from her life. She was dying for some 
excitement 

Jenny sat on her bed and fumbled with the gun 
and the bullets for over an hour, finalizing her decision 
and trying to figure out how to load and shoot. The 
smooth, cool metal gave her an artificial feeling of 
power. She stood in front of the mirror in her bedroom 
watching herself do various things with the gun. She 
spread her feet apart, took aim at her reflection, and 
pretended to shoot the imaginary criminal in the mirror. 
She put the barrel to her right temple, and with a smile 
mumbled, "I just can't take another day of this agony." 
She pretended to shoot herself, making the sound of a 
gun blast Next she stuck the gun barrel in her pocket, 
and in her best raspy cowboy voice she told the 
reflection, 'Ten paces and draw..." She turned her back 
to the mirror, paced out ten steps in place, then swung 
around and faked a shot at her challenger. She blew on 
the end of the gun barrel then shoved it back into her 
pocket and smiled at herself in the mirror. The brown- 
eyed girl stared at her pale face, picked up her hairbrush 
and ran it through her long hair. She bent over the 
dresser and put her lips on the mirror and pressed them 
into the glass with her eyes closed. She backed up and 
looked at herself again and whispered, "I love you, 

(continued) 

Winter. 1990-91 



Lidocaine Life, continued 

Jenny..." The gun barrel was pulled from her pocket and 
pointed to her right temple one more time. Just before 
she pulled the trigger, she spoke to her familiar image. 
"I hate you!" She enunciated every word slowly. 

The gun went off. The explosion was muffled by 
its proximity to Jenny's skull. A heavy "uuuhhh" came 
from her throat as she slumped into a pile on the floor 
between her bed and hr dresser. On the way down, her 
face slammed into the corner of her dresser tearing a deep 
gash in her smooth cheek. A fine spray of blood 
speckled her mirror, her dresser, the hairbrush, and the 
note she left behind. 

Her nine-year-old sister found her when she got 
home from school. The little girl threw her backpack 
and jacket on the floor of the kitchen and settled herself 
at the kitchen table for cookies and milk. She ran 
upstairs after her snack to tell Jenny she had met a new 
friend on the bus. She forgot her friend when she found 
her sister. She pulled the pile of limpness over to see 
the face. A long, irregular breath escaped the gray-blue 
lips along with a trickle of blood. Black and blue eyes 
bulged from the ghosUy face. Little sister ran out in 
terror to find a neighbor who could help. She stopped 
only long enough to vomit cookies and milk on the 
hallway carpet 

It was a breezy, warm day in September. The 
local children were back in school. The emergency room 
was quiet. The chaos of repairing lacerations and broken 
bones leveled off sharply with the end of summer 
vacation. Patty Hernandez was charting on a patient she 
had discharged earlier in the day and jumped when the 
mercy radio started up. 

"Edgebrook Medical Center...Edgebrook Medical 
Center...This is TEN GEORGE FOURTEEN on mercy. 
Do you copy?" 

Patty picked up the receiver, a pen, and paper all 
at once. "This is Edgebrook Medical Center, TEN 
GEORGE FOURTEEN. We copy loud and clear bo 
ahead." 

"Edgebrook, we're enroute to your facility with a 
fifteen-year-old victim of a self-inflicted gunshot wound 
to the right temple. The patient was apneic at the scene 
of the accident but had a pulse of 48. We intubated and 
are bagging per ambu and 02. The patient has a BP to 
68/20. We have an IV of lactated ringers wide open to 
maintain the pressure. Pupils are fixed and dilated. 
Patient does not respond to painful stimulus. There is 
no exit wound. We have contacted Healthstar. They will 
meet us on your pad in ten to fifteen minutes. Our ETA 
to your facility is three minutes. Please have your 
doctor and staff standing by on your pad. We will not be 

Wordewer 74 



bringing this patient into your ER. We will transport 
direcUy off your pad with Healthstar. We need your 
doctor for quick assessment in case the intubation is 
incorrect We could also use a hand bagging and need 
another IV line which we have not had time to start Do 
you copy, Edgebrook?'* 

"We copy TEN GEORGE FOURTEEN. We're 
standing by for your ETA of three minutes. Edgebrook 
Medical Center, WQX239. clear on mercy." Patty hung 
up the receiver, yelled for the doctor, then immediately 
primed an IV line and ran for the helicopter pad with 
supplies in hand. She didn't notice the beautiful autumn 
day as she stepped outside. She stood, shifting her 
weight from foot to foot, and waited with nervous 
agitation. 

The siren could be heard wailing before the 
ambulance came into view. Patty could feel the 
adrenalin kicking in. Her heart was pounding fast and 
her lungs felt like they were taking in twice as much air 
as they normally did. This was the rush of excitement 
she lived for. There was no feeling that even came 
close. She thrived on the stress. Patty didn't need 
drugs. She had her job. The ambulance screeched to a 
stop on the drive, fifty yards from the pad, and the driver 
raced around to open the rear double doors. 

Inside, two paramedics were bent over the 
stretcher. The doctor, a young woman in her thirties, 
bolted into the ambulance to assess the patient's airway. 
"You did a good job. Let's get her out of here. I can't 
move in here and I can't see a thing." 

Out into the sunshine they lowered the stretcher. 
Patty had the IV in and flowing in less than two 
minutes. She took a blood pressure, "Sixty over 
twenty," she informed the doctor and the paramedics and 
then, for the first time, she took a good look at the 
patient 

It would have been difficult to determine whether 
or not she had been a pretty girl. The eyes were swollen 
shut and encircled by dark purple bruises. They bulged 
from her head like miniature water balloons. Blood 
oozed slowly from both nostrils and mixed with dried, 
caked blood on her face. The rip in her cheek was deep. 
Pink, pearly, fat tissue emerged from the wound. She 
had a white plastic bag taped around her head to keep the 
blood and brain matter from spilling out any further. 
Strands of hair that had not been pushed into the bag 
hung to the girl's shoulders and the sun reflected off the 
shiny auburn strands that weren't matted in blood. Her 
body was thin and well proportioned. Her shirt had been 
cut away, revealing her small breasts which were now 
soaking up the sunlight. Her chest was rising and 
falling in a synchronized rhythm with each squeeze of 

(continued) 

Winter. 1990-91 



Judy Belfield 



Lidocaine Life, continued 

the bag. The lower half of her body was clothed in brand 
new, stonewashed blue jeans that fit tightly around her 
slender hips. She had on blinding white high-top tennis 
shoes. Not a spot of blood on her shoes. Patty 
marveled at the impossibility of how that could have 
happened. 

The paramedic was giving the doctor details of 
how the girl was found at "the scene.'* He spoke in 
excited, pressured syllables. "She musta shot herself 
with a 22. I don't know. The cops have the gun and I 
didn't see it. Anyway, it was big enough to blow out 
the other side. It musta just spun around inside 
somewhere. When I went to intubate her, I had a heck 
of a time. There was brain matter going down her 
throat. I was praying I hit the right hole. I figured I 
musta done okay 'cause I heard lung sounds when we 
bagged her. You should'a seen the place. Her little 
sister found her and ran to a neighbor's house. She was 
standing in the front yard screaming when we got there. 
The neighbor was trying to hold her back but she was 
screaming and kicking and trying to get back inside. 
When we came back out, the poor kid just stood there 
watching us load up. She must have been in shock or 
something. She looked pale and numb. 

"Where were the kids' parents?" the doctor 
inquired. 

"Beats me. I guess the neighbor told one of our 
guys that the parents are divorced and the mother is 
unemployed. Nobody knew where to call her and 
nobody knows how to contact the father." The 
paramedic's face was flushed and his eyes were glowing. 

The paramedic and the doctor shook their heads in 
unison, giving the impression that they were both 
thinking the same thought. Patty watched them, amused 
by the excited expressions they had on. 

The helicopter made a graceful landing. The 
blades roared a furious announcement of arrival and 
before they came to a complete stop, three figures in 
bright orange overalls hunched over the pad to greet the 
"gunshot wound." They were gone in moments. Patty 
watched them go, wondering how in the hell the kid's 
shoes had stayed so white. 



IMPRESSIONISM 



In the distance 

trees contort rhythmically 

dance a graceful 

interpretive ballet 

with the wind 

The gray June sky 

lies waiting for opportunity 

promised in the 

whispers of God. 

I am taunted 

by one of those achingly 

beautiful songs 

that pulls the soul 

like a rubber band 

and holds it taut 

threatening to pull tighter. 

I am confined to senses; 

restricted to thoughts 

controlled by 

what I see, hear, touch. 

I experience everything this way 

concretely 

then subtract myself 

from it all; 

convert life to words — 

an abstract of reality. 



««««»»»» 



10 



Worde««74 



Maria Mellinger 

GARAGE FLOOR BAREFOOT 

I first saw her at school — this little toy of a girl 
with exaggerated hair and oversized shoes. She looked 
like fun. 

We ended up in the same bar with groups of 
friends from class. She sat with anyone, laughed like 
the rest of us, and always went home alone. A few 
times she brought girlfriends with her, but they would 
steal her spodight and so she normally left them behind. 

We could talk in class about anything, I thought, 
but everything remained hidden. The circles of 
conversation were like a carousel— an interesting ride but 
you sure don't get far. In the bar, however, she could 
reveal more about herself through flirting, smiling, 
playing games; all done through an alcohol screen thick 
as cotton candy. 

(continued) 

Winter, 1990-91 



Garage Floor Barefoot, continued 



JeffDeGrave 



After a pitcher of beer, I learned a little about her 
family. Another night I found out she worked two jobs 
to support herself and had a vague hope school might set 
her ahead. I knew if she was depressed because she 
wouldn't be with us. When she came back the next 
night she would buy and smile, "I have some catching 
up to do." 

Occasionally we would sit together, legs brushing 
up against each other, sharing a single glass in a mock 
relationship. I came in late once and found her sitting 
on a man's lap. When she got up to use the ladies' 
room, he followed her and so did I. "You saved me, 
Andy," she yelled, stumbling into my arms and leaving 
the silly body standing at the sink. 

Later that night she took out some money to pay 
our bill. I teased her, trying to pull the money out of 
her hands, begging for the twenty. She stood opposite 
me. "What will you give me for it?" I had my hands on 
her legs, just below her buttocks, where there was a 
little more flesh than I expected. I tried pulling her 
towards me. I moved to kiss her and caught an earlobe 
instead of my objective. 

"Wait," she said. "Let me go pay the bill." 

Then she was gone. 

She wasn't in class the next day or at the bar that 
night. I searched through the phone book for her name, 
made several wrong calls, and finally found her. I felt 
the triumph of a nine-year-old Hide-And-Seek contestant 
when someone else is captured and must be "II" 

"We'll be at the bar tonight," I said, suddenly 
surrounding myself with Mends, afraid to be alone with 
her. "Are you coming?" 

"My husband graduated from boot camp 
yesterday," she said. "I don't think I'll be going out this 
weekend." 

She never came back to our bar, although that 
Monday in class she asked, "Are you mad at me?" 

I smiled that she would think of it and said, "No." 
Months later, we were at a party in a friend's 
garage. She was barefoot and sitting across from me in 
our circle of friends, like a fallen Ring-Around-the-Rosie 
chain. I heard her telling a girl next to her that 
sometimes she just needed men to sit with her, touch her 
every once in awhile, almost kiss, and be gone. The 
conversation turned, but I saw her looking at me, and I 
knew that she loved me. 



««««»»»» 



BOY, I'M IN A PICKLE 

Boy, I'm in a pickle. I really don't relish the thought of 
this assignment Y'know, I'm no hot dog, I'm just 
trying hard not to make hamburger out of my grade. But 
this poem is going to need plenty of mustard on it in 
order to ketchup to my other ones. Let me be frank with 
you here: I've merely tried to sandwich some juicy ideas 
around the real meat of this thought, and believe me, it's 
been no picnic... 

Bethany Jackson 

THE VASE 

Smooth carved vase — 

Soft and delicate as a woman's figure — 

Ivory rose petal tresses 

Mount her form 

She stands alone on a desk 

Remembering locks of red and pink 

When she was young and the minute cracks did not crawl 

down her yellowing figure 
When the water was fresh— pure — and she naive to 

nature 
To decay 

Now she knows death and 
How replaceable an existence is 
Replaceable 
And she waits 

Maria Mellinger 

I CAUGHT YOUR VOICE 

I caught your voice 

In a jelly jar 

And kept it 

In my refrigerator. 

When I get home 

Late at night, 

You welcome me 

With a 

Sandwich and a smile. 



11 



Wordetter 74 



Winter. 1990-91 



Lara Baker 
WORDS 

Words gush out of your mouth 
float into the air 
bounce off the walls, 
ceilings, floor, my face, 
then dissipa te 
into nothingness. 
Empty, worthless nothings 
never to be heard again. 
Why are they taken so seriously? 

Maria Mellinger 
THROUGH THE GREEN 

Through 

The green of 

The whale-roads 

And the 

Sands of 

The walrus and the Carpenter 

I long for one solitary wave 

A Surf U.K., 

To pull me 

Away. 

Barbara Pillasch 
GAY BLADE I 

There once live a lover named Slade 
Who betrayed many an innocent maid 
He fell for a hefty gal named Annie 
Who said, "Cheat on me and I'll kick your fannie'' 
So sweet Annie's the last maid he laid. 

*** 

GAY BLADE II 

There once lived a lover named Slade 
Who betrayed many an innocent maid 

Bedded ladies down 

All around town 
Just to prove he could still make the grade. 



««««»)♦»» 



JeffDeGrave 
I WILL WRITE ABOUT NOTHING 

will write about nothing. 

will not write of our planet, Earth 

will not speak of death or birth 

will avoid thoughts of sky or sea 

promise not to mention you or me 

will write about nothing. 

want not to whine over some special love 

shalt not speaketh of God above 

dare not creep you with sounds of Hell 

just won't say anything, I've nothing to tell 

will write about nothing. 

will not discuss my personal life 

don not know who's slept with whose wife 

won't reveal the thoughts in my head 

will not ponder over the lives that we've led 

will write about nothing. 

won't reminisce of how it used to be 

guess I won't suppose about World War m 

couldn't even tell you about peace or war 

don't even know what this poem's for, but yet— 

have written about everything... 

Shane Van Veghel 
A MAN ONCE HAD A DREAM 



A man once had a dream. He dreamt that he was riding a 
horse. He felt free and powerful. The wind was rushing 
through his hair and he laughed. Taken away by his 
feelings of joy. he lost control and fell. Now he 
suddenly found himself being dragged behind the horse 
He thought of the woman he adored and the life he loved 
Now he was going to die. He would never again see the 
people he loved or do the things he so enjoyed. Just as 
despair was going to overtake him, a K-Mart employee 
unplugged the machine. 

JeffDeGrave 
THE LATEST IN HAIKUS 

Hcre'i the latest in haikui-the linear model-jave« up to two line,. 



Worde«cr74 



12 



Wimcr. 1990-91 



JudyBelfield 
DRIFTINGS 

On full-moon nights 

silver reflections 

flicker in your eyes 

and mirror the light-spattered darkness. 

I see through time in the twinklings; 

from today a melt of yesterday 

into a blurred tomorrow — 

a synthesis of colors blended 

from moments before and not yet 

There is a magic in the works, 

a production not yet refined: 

we are Michelangelo's fingers 

waiting for the marble 

to dictate shape. 

We are not concerned 

how it ends 

overwhelmed as we are 

by moonlight 

and other cliches. 

Maria Mellinger 
THIS TIME 

He walks continuously, past people, houses, cars; 
when the tape in his Walkman stops and he turns it 
over; when his hand tires from carrying the little 
noisemaker, the strap of which had long ago broken on 
another walk; when his feet tire; when his mind tires. 
He walks on. 

The music fills his ears and forces the muscles in 
his legs to continue their movement, however exhausted 
they may be. It drives him like the passing cars. 

He mouths the words of the songs, not confident 
enough to use his own voice. The beat is more 
important, of more use to him. It pounds as if in 
mockery of his own heartbeat or the sounds of his shoes 
hitting the street. It almost blocks the sounds of happy 
children. 

He leaves his neighborhood, escaping perfect 
middle class kids with Kool-Aid smiles and dirty knees. 
He passes sensible fuel-efficient cars with worthless 
stuffed animals pressed into their windows. He passes 
the homes with matching curtains and blinds. He walks 
out on his life. 

Down hills and across railroad tracks he travels, 

13 
Wcrdeiter 74 



dressed in sneakers, shorts, and t-shirt He carries the 
expensive Walkman like a cross he must bear, a heavy 
dying bird clutched in his fist 

He moves onto the busier streets, where trucks 
mix into the road's steady diet of cars. Each time one 
passes him, his long hair is blown forward into his eyes 
and mouth. He brushes it back with an angry gesture 
and continues walking. Often he makes eye contact with 
a driver, but sees nothing. 

Shattered glass danger finds its way into his path. 
an animal, a fellow traveler, is discovered broken on the 
street's edge. He continues. 

A garage comes into view, with a barking dog at 
the door. The mechanic looks at him as he passes, then 
looks back at his work. Both had averted their eyes at 
the last possible second, so as to avoid the necessity of a 
greeting. 

Cheap diners, gas stations, abandoned cars begin 
to fill in the holes where homes might have once been. 
The quality of the town steadily decreases. Bars emerge. 
More glass, more broken buildings. 

Now an occasional house interrupts the dead flow. 
An old black man sits on a tree stump and slices 
government-issue cheese for a meal. Mothers throw wet 
laundry over a porch rail for lack of a proper clothesline, 
much less an electric dryer. 

The music in his Walkman plays on. 

No one meets his eyes now. They hardly notice 
another person trying to escape in this part of town. 

Sometimes he believes he can walk forever; on to 
the highway ramp, off into another state, somewhere far 
away. Wisconsin, maybe. There isn't much broken 
glass on the streets of Wisconsin. 

Less than half a mile from the interstate, a car 
slows, then pulls up beside. The window rolls down and 
his slobbering mother wrapped in curlers and curse 
words, cries, "God damn it, get in this car! I ought to 
beat the shit out of you..." 

He almost got away this time. 

He is twelve years old. 



««««»»»» 



JeffDeGrave 



HELEN KELLER HAIKU 



I would write one but 

these spirit masters aren't made 

for writing in Braille 



««««»»»» 



Winter. 1990-91 



Sh^. 



reenwalt 



THE ^ESENCE 

I have felt it 

no shape, no form, 
just a presence; 

A heavy weight, 
A heavy weigh, 

that falls on the midnight hour, 

in the half light. 
Yes I have felt it, 

I have felt death. 

Shenon Wright 

TIPS FOR MORE INTERESTING LIVING 

—Rebellion is boring. Try to find uniqueness in 
staying within the norm. Too many fighting conformity 
creates a trend. 

— Humor makes life more fun. Try to find humor in 
trivial things by searching for one character that makes it 
funny. Soon, you will have mastered frivolity and 
laughter will be your second language. 
—Watching classic black and white films in the 1990s 
is "Yuppie." Finding intellectual stimulation in your 
favorite soap opera is the new trend. Keeping soaps in 
perspective by realizing the difference between All My 
Children and Gone With the Wind is the first step. 
Elaborate on this by laughing at an overly dramatic 
moment and enjoying a great tear-jerking scene. 
—Pretend your mother really knows best, do what she 
says and see what happens. 

—Before you go to bed tonight, think of someone that 
makes you happy. What would that person say or do to 
make you feel loved and secure? Fall asleep with these 
thoughts. 

Maria Mellinger 

ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF MY SCAR 

On the anniversary of my scar 

I began to shed my skin 

And sat, snakelike, in the sun, 

Occasionally rubbing against a rock 

To aid the creation of my new personality. 



JeffDeGrave 

I DON'T CARE 

I don't care about polka dots and plaid 

I don't care if my writing is bad 

I don't care about an apostrophe 

I don't care about crossing my t's 

I don't care if my head turns bald 

I don't care about the names I've been called 

I don't care if my car isn't new 

I don't care if my eyes aren't blue 

I don't care that my phone just rang 

I don't care about dialectic slang 

I don't care if I'm an hour late 

I don't care if my verse aint great 

The things that matter most to me 
Are the things in life with integrity. 

I don't care what's your color of skin 

I don't care if you're fat or thin 

I don't care about the holes in your jeans 

I don't care what welfare means 

I don't care if your body is frail 

I don't care if you can only read Braille 

I don't care that you barely eat 

I don't care that you toil in your feet 

It doesn't matter if you have no money 
As long as you live by honesty. 

I don't care about stately things 

I don't care abut your diamond rings 

I don't care what you get for free 

I don't care about quality 

I don't care about your high-priced trends 

I don't care about your Mercedes-Benz 

I don't care abut your jaded world 

I don't care if you're "only a girl" 

I don't care for your plastic face 

I don't care for your phony grace 

I don't care for your gift-wrapped smile 

I don't care for your store-bought style 

Take your Gucci, Saks, and Esprit 
And trade them for a little generosity. 



««««»»»» 



14 



Wank* \a 74 



Winter, 1990-91 



Mana Mellinger 

THE ENVIRONMENT WAS SLEEPING 

The environment was sleeping. 
The darkness said nothing 
And neither did the rain. 
The air was barely there — 
A little whisper to the leaves 
When it thought no one would hear. 
The night embraced all of us, 
Except the moon punching 
Through its barriers, 
Except a star or two 
In pale imitation, 
Except me. 

Bethany Jackson 

FIRE 

Under the shaded amber moon we slept 
While visions danced around gold fire light 
So soft the sound of their footprints in the night 
That they were inaudible to ears that wept 

The blackest tree of love did rustle its fruit 
Above our heads, exposing sin's old taunt 
I watched your pale face and form grow gaunt 
Like Adam and Eve our sense was not acute 

For we devoured blossoms still of green 
Impatiently we sucked lust's sweet juice 
And out of greed and thirst we drank love dry 

We knew not passion's pain at seventeen 

Or of the dignity it will reduce; 

We set dream's feet afire and saw them die 

Barbara Pillasch 

LEAF DRIFT 

October escorts 

the autumn river as she 

meanders downstream 

Worde»ter74 



Carol Spinabella 
CONVENTIONAL LOVE POEM? 




rl to do? 

/ou. 

Well, actually, I like you a lot. 
It's hard to say if it's love just yet, but it's really close. 
Let's just say that I'm crazy "in like" because love is 
such a strong word and is used to lightly these days, I 
think. However, if you keep doing likable things and I 
keep liking you more over time then I will love you 
soon, I predict 

I like you a lot. 

even though love it's not 

But when I decide it's so, 

you'll be the first to know. 



««««»»»» 



15 



Maria Mellinger 

PLEASE DON'T HIDE YOUR HANDS 

Please don't hide your hands 
By crossing your arms that way. 
I want to watch them, 
Your artist's hands. 
Chiseling me into what you want 
With this argument. 

Rich Transon 
UNBELIEVER 

With a flick of his wrist and a flash of light the 
magician made the black cat reappear. The small crowd 
that had gathered on the sidewalk applauded. A small, 
blonde haired boy standing in front, asked in awe, "How 
did you do that?" 

"Magic." 

A mocking little laugh came from the back of the 
crowd. 

"What the matter, good sir; don't you believe in 
magic?" asked the magician. 

The crowd parted slightly so the two opponents 
could see each other more clearly. The man who had 
laughed was tall with short brown hair parted down the 

(continued) 

Winter. 1990-91 



Unbeliever, continued 

side. His narrow nose and elongated face made him look 
even taller. His lips were twisted in a perpetual scowl 
and his dark gray business suit marked him as a 
conservative. 

"There's no such thing," he said. 

"What is your name, sir?" 

"Dave Plank," he replied. 

"Well, Dave, surely you believe in miracles. And 
what is a miracle, but magic?" said the magician. 

"I don't believe in miracles, either," Dave said. 
Shaking his head, the magician said, "Then I feel sorry 
for you." 

Dave snorted and walked away. Magic, what 
nonsense, he thought His thoughts were interrupted 
when he walked into his office. 

He didn't think about his encounter with the 
magician until his ride home that night He was driving 
along a stretch of deserted highway when a thick fog 
began to roll over the street. It formed a wall of fog that 
hovered a few feet above the ground. There was a gap in 
the fog where Dave was driving to. It was almost a 
tunnel through the fog. It reminded him of cheap special 
effects magicians employ to distract their audience while 
they work their "magic." Thinking about the magician, 
Dave let his eyes wander off the road for just a minute. 
When he looked back, he was staring at two bright 
lights bearing down on him. There was a loud crunch 
and a bright flash of light, then Dave slipped into 
oblivion... 

When Dave regained consciousness, he saw he 
was lying in an open meadow. Lush, green grass rolled 
out in all directions. Large grassy knolls were in 
abundance and trees dotted the landscape. 

Dave sat up and rubbed his eyes. He had no idea 
where he was, but he felt great. The air seemed to 
permeate with goodness. A soft breeze carried the scent 
of luscious berries to his nostrils and his stomach 
answered with a rumble. 

Looking to the north, Dave saw a clump of 
bushes; the dark red berries visible from where he was 
standing. He was about to head for the bushes when he 
heard a voice from behind him. 

"There you are. I've been looking all over for 
you." 

Dave turned and confronted the man. He was old 
and friendly looking. All of his hair, including his beard 
and mustache, was white. He walked slightly stooped 
but sure-footed. His face had an open expression of 
friendship amidst all the wrinkles. 



16 



Worde»t«74 



"Who are you?" Dave asked. 

"I'm Believer. Your guide." 

"Who? Guide for what?" 

"My name is Believer and I'm your guide on your 
quest" He was smiling. 

"Quest for what?" Dave asked warily. 

"Why, the quest to defeat the Unbeliever, 
naturally," Believer said with the same smile. 

Dave was getting just a little tired of the old 
man's smile. He wanted nothing more than to beat it 
off the old man's face. But, through a superhuman 
effort, he gained control of himself. 

"Who is this Unbeliever and why do I want to 
defeat him?" 

The old man sighed. "This is going to take 
longer than I thought. Why don't you eat while I 
explain." 

"Good idea." 

Dave started off toward the berries when Believer 
tapped him on the shoulder. He aimed and saw a fell 
basket of berries at Believer's feet 

"How did you do that?" Dave asked. 

"I believed." 

"I don't get it" 

"I believe in magic, therefore I was able to bring 
the berries here using magic," Believer said. 

"I don't believe in — " 

"That's your problem, you don't believe. Sit 
down and eat your berries, and I'll explain it as best I 
can." 

Dave sat and tentatively popped a berry into his 
mouth. It was better than anything he ever had. He 
began shoveling berries into his mouth by the handfuls. 
When Dave was done wiping away the sucky berry juice 
from his face. Believer began. 

"All of this," he gestured broadly, "is in your 
mind; the hillocks, the berries, and even me. It may 
seem familiar to you because you used to daydream 
about this place. You and your friends make-believed 
that you performed great deeds of heroism." 

"Wait a second. I find this hard to belie— credit. 
Everything, even you, is in my head? C'mon, man. Do 
you think I'm a fool?" David said incredulously. 

"Keep quiet and hold still." the old man com- 
manded. "Don't interrupt me again. Now then, 
everything I said is true. There are two opposing forces 
in your conscience: the Believer, that's me, and the 
Unbeliever. When you were just a boy. I wasn't as you 
see me now. I was strong, proud and powerful. The 
Unbeliever had to keep in the shadows lest he incur my 
displeasure." 

For a moment, Believer's eyes took on a distant, 

(continued) 

Wuiua, 1990-91 



Unbeliever, continued 

dreamy look, but then he came back to reality. "But 
over the years, you stopped believing. The Unbeliever 
has grown in power and I'm this wasted shell of my 
former self. This meadow is my last bastion of 
resistance. 

Dave felt pity for the poor man, but he wasn't 
sure what to believe. He needed answers. 

"What does this have to do with me? And why 
am I here now?" 

"Do you remember the fog and bright lights?" 
"Yes." 

"You hit a van head on. You're dying. You 
would be dead now if I didn't use nearly all my 
remaining power to bring you here. You need a miracle 
to live, and the only way that can happen is if you truly 
believe. That's why you must defeat the Unbeliever," 
said Believer. 

"How do I do that?" asked Dave 

"You must use magic. And to use magic, you 
must believe. Believe David Plank!" 

Dave doubled over as he felt a sharp pain in his 
stomach. 

"Quickly, you are dying. Do you believe or not?" 

"I believe," Dave said rising to his feet though in 
his heart he was still unsure. 

Believer led David through the meadow. They 
walked past a magnificent castle off to the west 

"That's where I battled the dragon!" he exclaimed 
He turned, red-faced, towards Believer. "I mean, when I 
was a boy I pretended to slay a dragon on that casde's 
battlements." 

"Now you begin to truly believe, don't you?" the 
old man asked sofdy. 

"I'm beginning to believe," Dave said, almost to 
himself. 

Dave wasn't sure but he thought that Believer 
wasn't as stooped as he was before. And was that some 
brown hair among the white? 

As they walked farther the grass slowly turned 
yellow and died. There were only dead trees and din 
The berry bushes had disappeared. 

"What's wrong? I never thought of this before," 
Dave said. 

"It's the Unbeliever. He has twisted and unmade 
much of your imagination as well as beliefs." 

They continued walking for a few more minutes, 
then Believer stopped. 

"I cannot go further. Unbeliever is too strong. 
It's up to you now." He disappeared. 

David took a breath to steady himself, then 



continued onward. After about a hundred yards, he saw a 
figure facing away from him. As he walked up to him 
David asked, "Who are you?" 

"I'm Unbeliever," said a very familiar voice. 
As Unbeliever faced Dave, he gasped. The 
Unbeliever looked exacdy like himself. He was the 
Unbeliever! David's mind raced. Believer told him to 
use magic, so that's what he would do. This was his 
childhood land of make-believe, so he would do just that, 
make-believe. He pretended a bolt of lightning tearing 
through the sky to strike the Unbeliever, but as the bolt 
sizzled towards its target, it fizzled out Next Dave had a 
tree fall on the Unbeliever, but it passed right through 
him. Time and again, David cast a spell and time and 
again it had no effect on the Unbeliever. 

Dave felt another searing pain in his stomach. He 
was running out of time, he had to get out quick or he 
would die. Then Dave had a flash of insight His spells 
didn't work on the Unbeliever because he didn't believe. 
But David did believe, so if he cast it on himself it 
should work. He imagined himself by the car wreck. 

Unbeliever stood still waiting for time to kill 
David. Too late, he realized that Dave had gone. Dave 
believed in himself, he believed he couldn't fail, so he 
didn't 

David opened his eyes. He was lying on loose 
gravel on the side of the road, A paramedic was leaning 
over him. 

"He's alive," she shouted over her shoulder to 
someone he couldn't see. 

"It's a miracle that you're alive," she told him. 

Smiling, he said, "I believe you." 



««««»»»» 



Maria Mellinger 

I UNPLUGGED MY ALARM CLOCK 

I unplugged my alarm clock 

So we could have more time together. 

But you don't believe in magic — 

That if you hold your breath you don't need air, 

That if you catch lightning bugs in a jar they'll glow 

forever, 
That adults are really just tall children who forgot how 

to play on the swings, 
That hiding the truth isn't a lie. 
I cast a spell by pulling the electric cord 
And stopping time for us. 
What did you have to keep your watch on for? 



17 



««««»»»» 



Wcrdeaier 74 



Winter. 1990-91 



Jelfield 



A LITTLE WORSE FOR WEAR 



I am the lights 

strung up weeks ago, 

the garlands, the holly 

red bows 

the scent of evergreens 

echo of bells 

rung on Christmas 

yesterday — 

an old decoration 

clinging to pillars 

the stairway 

the front door 

anywhere I can. 

Dry heat pries up 

transparent tape 

which crackles to the touch. 

I am coming away again 

hanging lopsided 

sadly needing support 

But this holiday 

is over 



««««»»>►>► 



JeffDeGrave 



APOSTROPHITIS 
(The Revenge of Ititis) 

Y'know, I jus* can't und'rstand s'mtimes. Sum 
peopl* git so ben* outta shape if ya don' use an 
apostrophe. They take p'rson'l offense to it all I ges 
it's jus' one o* those thin's that'll ne'er e'er ent'r my 
head 'n' mak'a 'ho' lot o' sense t'me. It's pr'tty clear 
t me that th' entire situation isn't as import'nt as sum 
folks make it out t'be. That th'r' dum' lil' ol' 
apostrophe don* mak'a whole helluva lotta diffr'nce if ya 
as' me. One dum' lil' line ain't gonna hav'a 'ho' lotta 
feet on th* outcome of th' meanin' of what i'm a-tryin' 
t say. I mean, c'mon, duz it really matt'r wheth'r or not 
I use mat dum' lil' line 'slong as I git th' poin' across? 
I think sum peopl* outta jus'ettle down V pond'r 'bout 
what what I'm try'n t'say. Th'r ain't no need fer sumone 
t hafta use sum dum' ol' line if they'nt want'n fuse it 
anyways. Trus' me, it's just something that's used for 
its vanity... 



Holly Bruns 
MAIL ARMOR 

There you were, 

protected by your shiny suit, 

your reflective metal shell 

I thought that you were my desire. 

Your strength and beauty were everything 

I ever dreamed of. 

I was trained to adore a male. 

I captured you gallant knight, 

or did you capture this maiden fair? 

The truth is hard to determine. 

I couldn't wait to remove your armor, 

to uncover the prize inside. 

It took some doing... 

Finally the armor was removed 

and the dark stranger inside was revealed. 

He was too small to wear such an ominous suit. 

I saw him cry (more than once) with emotion. 

He wasn't nearly as strong as the first time I saw him. 

I was afraid. 

He took to much. He gave too much. 

His suit of armor rusted away in the closet 
of the guest room. 

A room reserved for overnight visits of the closest 

friends. 

No guest had ever slept there. 

I watched as the male larvae hatched from his metal 

cocoon 
and move about unburdened by his one-way mirror. 
I agonized the loss of my own reflection. 
I couldn't see my image looking back at me any longer. 
So I ran to the bedroom mirror. 
He followed. 

I was entirely covered by a crinkled layer of aluminum 

foil. 
When he pulled me close enough to kiss me, 
he smiled instead, 

enjoying the playful, distorted image of a male smiling 
back. s 



««««»»»» 



Wordeiter74 



18 



««««»»»>» 



Winter. 1990-91 



Mute, minute 
twisted 

bundle of bones 
eighty-five years 
eighty-five pounds 

White lights 

white walls 

white nurses 

assault 

her waiting eyes 

I wore my red sweater today. 

We wait 

her eyes 

glance beyond me 

and smile 

I know 

he's arrived 

Well, hi, I say 
you sure took 
your sweet time 
I say, so long 
I'll see ya 
Mom 

And he takes her 
delicately. 



Bart era Pillasch 






JeffDeGrave 


ARRIVAL 






EVERY SNOWFLAKE 

i 






J5 


XT ew 





* 




f 




■t 

15 


# 


* 




9' 




C** 


HS 


18 





A*J 



f 



f 



« 



f 



■''* r %!*+ ****■ « T^S W»*.»< «"' """ **»■■ 



««««»)»»>» 



Maria Mellinger 

I'M NOT AN ENGLISH IDEAL 

I'm not an English ideal 
Sitting here writing lines leaking 

romance into our atmosphere. 
I'm a strange half breed 

of cynic and something else 

damned if I know what. 
But if you could accept these offerings, 
I could be persuaded to shut up 

every so often. 



Wcrdeats 74 



19 



Every snowflake is its own unique self 

An identity all its own 

Like people — 

Millions of individual souls 

Floating freely 

Yet melting together on this snowbank. 

Barbara Pillasch 

AH-CHOO! 

On a warm day the wind is a "breeze" 
On a cold day it's "windy"— we freeze 
It's a "breeze when it's hot 
It's "windy" when it's not 
Either way, it still makes me sneeze. 



Winter, 1990-91 



Connie Legters 

LOST? 

He said, 

in my sleep 

I call my name. 

Am I lost? 

Have I slipped between 

the cracks, 

and can't get back? 

Do I roam 

amongst the dead, 

and only live 

when someone calls 

my name? 

Is it a trick 

to coax me 

through doors to nowhere? 

I don't know 

how to find myself, 

lost in sleep, 

I never would have dreamed 

that I call 

to me, 

except he said. 

Barbara Pillasch 
KNOCK-KNOCK 

When I was a child 

from a stranger's eyes 

I'd run 

under Mother's bed 

wrapped in 

swaddling dark 

I'd he 

dust-puff playmates 

caressed my cheek 

lulled my fears to sleep 

now 

when the stranger raps 

the grown-up lady 

answers 

the child still runs 



Robert Franklin 

I'M STANDING AT THE WINDOW 

I'm standing at the window 
With the stars gleaming bright 
There's a soft cool breeze 
And my head feels light 
I see my breath on the pane 
While thoughts run wild 
cold glass on my forehead 
And a troubled smile 
'I love you' I think 
And deny the charge 
But the emotion is heavy 
And my heart is large 
'Just friends' I mumble 
Despite our flirting 
I edit my thoughts 
and dance with the wording 
So the things I say 
And the depth I feel them 
are wrapped in a joke 
So you'll laugh when you hear them 
The more we're together 
The jokes will trail 
The depths of my feelings 
will resound like a bell 
This is the time you have the cue 
Is it "Yes, let's go out." or 
"No, I...ah...have the flu." 

Carol Spinabella 

ODE TO SMOKERS 

Excuse me, Sir. May I have a breath of air? 
Excuse me. Ma'am. I see you don't care, 
but I have chosen not to smoke. 
To me, lung cancer is not a joke. 

You'll die early, 

you'll help me die young, 

and you direcdy affect your unborn one. 

I hate your stinky ashes 
and detest your smelly clothes 
but it's your inconsiderate self 
that I truly loathe. 



20 



Wordeatcr74 



««««»»»» 



Winter, 1990-91 



Holly Brans 



ITALIAN NOVOCAINE 

Fierce and angry pain 
keeps me up at night, 
hurts more when I bite, 
making me insane. 

Would you please explain 
why something small and white 
can make me so uptight 
I need some Novocaine! 

Novocaine must be injected? 
Please knock me out before the shot 
I don't want to feel the sting. 

Aaahhh...fuzzy nothing I've detected. 
Nitrous Oxide hites the spot' 
Feeling nothing is my thing. 



** 



NOVOCAINE VILLANELLE 
(Minus the Iambic Pentameter) 

I feel nothing best of all 

No good, no bad, no joy or pain, 

Life is easier when it's dulL 

When fickle emotions come to call 
I flip a switch inside my brain, 
I feel nothing best of all. 

Guided missiles, hostages, communist wall, 
Garbage dumps, toxic waste, acid rain, 
Life is easier when it's dulL 

There's too much here inside my skull, 
I'm afraid I'll go insane. 
I feel nothing best of all. 

When mocking tears of torment fall 
I pretend they're cellophane. 
Life is easier when it's dull. 

Valium, Xanax, Alcohol, 
Exogenous Novocaine. 
I feel nothing best of all. 
Life is easier when it's dull. 



ELIZABETHAN NOVOCAINE 



A fierce and angry pain 
keeps me up at night, 
driving me insane, 
hurts more when I bite. 

Would you tell me why 
this enamel white and small, 
makes me want to see this guy? 
Most sadistic guy of all! 



Shannon Greenwalt 
FANTASIA 

Picture life in a world where 

right and wrong do not exist; 

And the only paths in life 

are those on which your heart leads 

And your dreams accompany you. 



««««»»»» 



««««»»»» 



21 



Novocaine must be injected? 
Please knock me out before the shot. 
Ahhh... fuzzy nothing I've detected, 
Nitrous Oxide hits the spot. 

I don't want to feel the sting. 
Feeling nothing is my thing. 



Maria Mellinger 

AFTER A NIGHT OF MUSIC 

After a night of music, 
The return to 
Books, poetry, words, 
And creative silence 
Is deafening. 



««««»»»» 



Words* t« 74 



Wmter. 1990-91 



JudyBelfeld 
HARANGUE MERINGUE 

Her speech, like a spring, 

unwound from a tight coil 

quickly, never slowing 

for ten minutes or so 

then, suddenly, stopped. 

The restaurant became 

strangely possessed 

of dish sounds 

waitress and cook voices, 

the hum of conversation. 

I waited for the other shoe to drop. 

Then, as if she'd been re- wound 

the "on" lever released, 

her frenzied speaking resumed 

each word pushing the other 

into heaps and heaps 

madly, frantically. 

How did she breathe? 

Is it possible 

to talk faster 

and still be understood? 

Silence again. 

Silence. 

Silence 

charged with anticipation... 

dread. 

Chinese water torture 

must be like this. 





June Johnson 


Zones 


ZIPPERS 


Provide 


Interface 


Engender 


Propriety 




Restriction 




Secure 




Zones 




Interface 




Provide 




Propriety 

Engender 
Restriction 




Secure 




««««»»»» 



Maria Mellinger 
A VERY SHORT STORY 

The 3 of them sat, at 3 a.m., in the 24 hour 
restaurant 2 of them were dressed in black, the 3rd in a 
navy blue turtleneck. He hoped that in the dim light of 
a Saturday night in Joliet, Illinois, they wouldn't notice 
he was not wearing black. 

It was all very symbolic. 



««««»»»» 



««««»>>»» 



Maria Mellinger 
HER CALENDAR IS FILLED 

Her calendar is filled 
with the days her friends got shot, 
the days their wakes were held, 
the mornings of their funerals — 
there are no empty boxes. 
Her neighborhood is the great social equalizer- 
no matter what gang they lived in, 
they're all dead in her desktop graveyard. 



Worde«ter74 



Chad Elmore 

SO CLOSE BUT SO FAR AWAY 

From the windshield, it looked like Rico was 
chasing a wall of cotton that kept just ahead of his 
bumper. The headlights only made the wall look deeper 
and denser. The wall was not only in front of him, it 
was behind him, beside him, above him, and the longer 
it took him to navigate the Blazer around the blind bends 
and hidden bumps, the deeper it became under him. The 
snow had started falling around eleven that morning, and 
by eleven-thirty, there was an inch on the ground. It 
was almost two o'clock now, and the snow showed no 
interest in letting up. The wind was blowing straight 
out of the west, in the direction he was going, at over 
twenty miles an hour. 

22 (continued) 

Winter. 1990-91 



So Close But So Away, continued 

Kathryn had not said a word since they left the 
warmth of the cabin, and Rico was not sure whether she 
was quiet out of fright or hatred. They had been staying 
at a mountain cabin owned by the Science Department at 
the University of Colorado in Boulder with ten other 
geology majors, studying glaciers above timberline on a 
half dozen mountains. The other students stayed at the 
remote cabin. Rico would have preferred to stay there, 
but he could not afford to miss another day of work. 

Kathryn had complained all weekend. She didn't 
understand why they had to camp so far in the mountains 
in late November when the glaciers were there all year 
long. If she wasn't only cold, she was tired and hungry. 
When she heard Rico was leaving early Sunday morning, 
she wasted not time in telling him she would be going 
with him. Rico wanted to say no, but he couldn't think 
of any reason other than that he just did not enjoy her 
presence, so he said, "fine." 

It had been clear and cold all weekend but Sunday 
morning a large bank of dark clouds began building up 
along the continental divide and the wind had increased. 
There was a front coming in, he knew, and he did not 
want to be trapped in a blizzard along the miles of 
narrow roads he had to go over to get home. Especially 
with Kathryn in the passenger seat. Rico waited by the 
cabin's wood stove until she was ready to leave at 10:30, 
two hours after he'd told her he wanted to leave. 

Now they were creeping along at a speed that 

barely moved the speedometer off of zero. Rico drove by 

trial-and-error— if the Blazer started to rise on the right 

side or dip on the left, he knew he was close to the edge, 

and with a rush of bright-brewed adrenalin, would correct 

the wheel quickly. Driving up to the cabin early the 

Friday before, he noticed these things about the road that 

were worrying him intensely now. On one side, now to 

his left, the edge of the road dropped quickly to the 

valley for several hundred feet below, to his right, the 

edge of the road rose quickly. The road between the two 

extremes had once been a narrow gauge railroad bed, 

barely enough room for Rico' Blazer. Today he could 

see neither side through the snow, but in his mind's eye 

they were burning brightly. He kept as close to the 

right side of the road as possible, and leaned close to the 

windshield and stared into the white. 

"If we can make it to the main road before dark 
we'll be okay," said Rico, "there are houses along it" 
"How far?" asked Kathryn. 
"It shouldn't be more than ten miles. Less than 
ten." 

At the speed they were going, the windshield 

23 
Wardeater74 



wipers could barely push the snow off of the glass. The 
wheels spun occasionally, but the four-wheel drive kept 
them moving forward. Slowly. 

Sometimes it was so hard to see where they were 
going Rico would have to stop and study the area 
somewhere in front of him before moving on. He held 
the steering wheel like his hands were welded to it He 
knew of a few places along the road he could pull off 
into and wait the storm out, but he had not idea where 
they were and how he would find them if he did. He'd 
never seen snow fall like this. At least it was keeping 
Kathryn quiet 

Rico looked over at her briefly to make sure she 
hadn't gotten out while he was staring ahead. They were 
going slow enough for her to do that She was there, 
staring out also, with both arms pulled inside her blue 
parka, her large hood hiding her voice. 

The wind blew the snow over the rear of Rico's 
Blazer with such a loud roar it was very hard to talk 
normally. It didn't concern him that Kathryn did not 
like him. He had put up with more than his share of 
racial hatred in his twenty-three years of existence as a 
black male, so the fact that Kathryn believed her race 
was superior in everything but basketball only made him 
thankful he was black. Kathryn was a bitch. 

Suddenly, the Blazer rose on the right front corner. 
Rico moved the wheel slightly to the left The Blazer 
found level ground again but then began to dip violently 
downward on the left. He could imagine the wheel 
spinning in the snow-filled air, dangling over the valley 
below. He looked over at Kathryn who had said 
something he didn't catch. She was crouched over, her 
head buried in her parka. 

Rico held the brakes on the Blazer, though he 
could feel it sliding to the left, so he jabbed the shifter 
into reverse, and using his right foot for the gas pedal, 
pressed it as he slowly and reluctantly let up off the 
brakes. He left the wheel spin momentarily and finally 
find something to grip in the snow. The Blazer began to 
back up, and finally all four wheels sat on level solid 
ground. Rico put the selector in park and waited until he 
felt he knew where the road went, 
"You all right?" asked Rico. 
"Uh-huh. Let's just get out of here. Now," 
Kathryn said from within her parka. 

Rico shook his head and took a deep breath, then 
shifted the transmission back into low. He turned the 
wheels slightly to the right, and gave the engine just 
enough gas to move the wheels. He felt they'd moved 
only two feet when he suddenly felt very hot. His eyes 
widened. He did not need to be able to see the scenery to 
know he'd made an error. 

(continued) 

Winter. 1990-91 



So Close But So Far Away, continued 

The front of the Blazer dipped down again without 
warning. Rico stepped on the brake pedal but they kept 
moving. Down. Rico slipped the transmission into 
reverse and pushed the gas pedal to the floor. He could 
hear the engine rev and the four tires whine as they tried 
to find something to hold on to , but the Blazer was 
starting to slide forward. They were going down. There 
was nothing he could do to stop it He wasn't sure what 
gear it would be best to be in for the descent, so he left 
it in reverse, hoping it might slow them down a little. 

"Oh shoot! Hold on Kathryn! We are going 
down!" 

Kathryn started screaming. The Blazer started 
down the mountainside. 

Rico was wondering what it was going to take to 
stop them when the Blazer began fishtailing and started 
to slide down the mountain sideways. For a brief 
moment he felt they were slowing down, but the Blazer 
rolled on its right side. Kathryn screamed louder. She 
was calling Rico names. It was his fault. She was 
going to die. Rico turned the ignition off when they 
started to tip. They barrel-rolled softly until the right 
side slammed violently into a pine tree whose limbs 
dropped their collection of snow onto the twisted and 
crumpled vehicle. 

Rico opened his eyes. They had landed on their 
wheels. Snow blew through the missing windshield and 
landed on him. It was getting dark out. He must have 
blacked out. He was freezing. Kathryn was quiet 

"Hey Kathryn," Rico said as he reached over and 
prodded the blue mound next to him. 
"I'm here," she said. 
"Are you okay?" 

"Yes. I'm fine. What are we going to do now?" 
"I think we are stuck here until the snow stops. 
We'd only get lost if we leave now." The Blazer had 
become almost completely buried, and the wind blew 
snow in their faces. It had to be much below zero. 

"We have to get out of here, though," said Rico, 
"this is going to be an icebox. We'll..." 

"Oh yeah! And go sit in the snow? I am not 
leaving here." 

Rico knew he couldn't leave Kathryn. If they 
were going to survive, they would have to go it 
together. Night was coming and they were stuck. He 
talked her into moving to the back seat The windows 
were broken back there too, but not as bad as in front 
A roll bar over the rear seat prevented the roof from 
collapsing as far in front, so with the tall front seats and 
low roof, they were relatively protected from the wind. 

24 
Wonfeatcr74 



He was tired and very hungry, not to mention cold. The 
only food he had with him was two cans of regular Alpo 
which he carried in his small survival bench in the center 
console of the Blazer. He carried Alpo because he knew 
he'd never eat it unless he had to, so he never had to 
worry about snacking on his survival food. Now he 
couldn't bear to touch it Not now, at least Kathryn 
would have none of it Only a few bags had been lost as 
the Blazer tossed about so Kathryn and Rico pulled 
everything out of them and buried themselves with the 
assorted clothes. He tried to talk with her. It was 
almost completely dark, and he was afraid they might 
fall asleep. He talked until she said something he could 
not understand. She was mumbling like she was drunk. 
Rico reached out and touched her shoulder. She was 
shivering violently. 

"You're getting hypothermia, Kathryn! Damnit, 
why didn't you say something before?" 

"I'm so cold." 

"We have to get in the same sleeping bag or we 
are not going to make it" 

"Jesus," Kathryn mumbled. "You are sick. 
You're to close to me as it is." 

"You are going to die if you don't get warm soon. 
We've got to get out of these clothes and in the same 
sleeping bag. Or we'll both die." 

"My boyfriend will kill you for saying this. You 
can go to hell." 

He began yelling at her. Nothing he could say 
would convince Kathryn he was merely offering to save 
her life. She told him to stay back. And slapped him. 

Crying, Rico gave up. He told her to stay awake, 
and she finally settled down. She's been quiet for quite a 
while when Rico reached over and felt her neck. She 
didn't slap him. She was frozen. He felt her face. Her 
eyes were open. 

Rico sat back and listened to the wind howl 
through the pine trees. He decided to pull the clothes off 
of Kathryn's body and put them over himself. He left 
her in the sleeping bag. He thought maybe he should 
say a little prayer for the deceased. "I tried," was all he 
could say. 

The Alpo had frozen solid so he began licking the 
meat in the top of the can. He was glad he was not a 
dog and forced to eat it all of the time. He was sure he 
could smell pine smoke, but figured he was slowly 
succumbing to hypothermia and was hallucinating. He 
began to dream of his parents* warm house far away in 
Boulder. He slipped off into a deep, peaceful sleep. 
Death did not bother to wake him. 

The blizzard had stopped early in the morning. 

(continued) 

Winter, 1990-91 



So Close But So Far Away, continued 

Jack was letting his dog out to run around when he saw 
a large mound of snow next to a pine tree in his yard- 
He walked over to it, and brushed the snow off of a gray 
Blazer. Thirty feet from his cabin, two young kids had 
had to fight for survival the night before, while he slept 
in his warm comfortable cabin. So he said a prayer for 
both of them. 



Maria Mellinger 
QUILTING 

The women sat at a kitchen table surrounded by 
scraps of cloth, needles, and thread. The smell of pot 
roast lingered somewhere in the background. 

"I remember when my grandmother taught me to 
sew," said the oldest of the women. She was, until 
recendy, a grandmother herself. "All of our clothes were 
turned into blankets, like mine. On cold nights, I could 
touch a patch that was a summer dress a season ago and 
feel warm just remembering." 

"I have that quilt, Mom," said a middle-aged 
woman. "It's the patterned one with the flowered cotton 
prints." 

"Yes, that's the one," the old woman agreed. "It 
looks like summer with all those flowers. And the 
middle layer is a thin wool blanket, so you're as warm 
as an afternoon on a porch swing." 

"All this material is from clothes, isn't it?" asked 
a teenaged neighbor, eager to help but unaware of the 
circumstances. 

"Yes," said the middle-aged woman. "They were 
Richard's clothes." 

Silence simmered in the room, like the 
ingredients in the afternoon meat had earlier, until the 
girl picked up a piece of school jersey. "This was his 
state shirt?" 

The middle-aged woman, Richard's mother 
nodded 

"Can I have it? Just this piece?" 

His mother nodded again. 

"I miss him. It's hard to believe he's not just 
away at school," said the girl. "I can't believe he's not 
coming home..." 

The grandmother kept sewing, tiny stitches of 
perfection. "When my grandmother taught me to sew," 
she said, "there were no machines. No machine that 
could do this kind of work. This kind of detail needs a 

25 
Wardeat«74 



human hand." 

This was his high school graduation gown," said 
the mother quietly, touching a small stack of shiny 
black material. "There's a piece of his prom 
cummerbund somewhere. We were supposed to return 
that, I think, but his girlfriend kept the tie. They were 
going to charge us anyway, he said." 

The girl cried, afraid to move from her seat at the 
table. 

"Pass me a bright colored patch," said the 
grandmother, threading another needle. "Something 
beautiful should be put in this corner." 

"I'm tired of sewing," said the mother. I'm going 
to stop now..." 

"You'll do no such thing!" snapped the woman's 
mother, slapping a wooden spool of thread down on the 
table. "Don't you want to remember? Shouldn't 
everyone remember?" She paused. "Now give me a 
bright piece of material." 

The teenaged girl looked up. She saw the mother, 
hands twisting on the table, trying to decide what pieces 
of her son's past should be sewn and what pieces should 
be kept private. She saw the grandmother's outstretched 
hand. 

She put the piece of the school jersey into it 

The girl then picked up a needle and threaded it as 
the old woman had done. 

The mother ran her hands over the black material 
stacked in front of her. She mourned her dead son and 
cursed the disease that stole him from her. She mourned 
for all the other sons and daughters lost forever except as 
statistics on a government chart She cried in silence. 

Later that night, when the grandmother and the 
girl had almost finished, the mother threaded an 
embroidery needle with clean white thread and stitched 
her son's name into the lower left comer. 

Richard's piece of the growing quilt was 
complete. 

Maria Mellinger 
SCREAM AS IF GIVING BIRTH 



Scream as if giving birth 

Cry as if he is lost 

Sing as if you are together 

But don't 

Remain silent on his grave 

As if he coulnt' hear. 



««««»»»» 



Wimer, 1990-91 



3nuu 

v aNISH 

Leave me alone. 
I want to sing. 
I want to turn up the radio and sing. 
This is my favorite song. 
I wish you weren't here. 
I want to sing loud. 
I want to take out the cigarette lighter 
and use it for a microphone. 
I want to draw out the notes 
until I run out of breath. 
I want to sing this song. 
Don't bother me for awhile. 
I'm singing. 

Go away. 

Not forever. 

Just for now. 

I want to tell secrets. 

I want to talk dirty 

and you won't like it 

Just leave me alone for a little while. 

I'm talking. 

Please don't disturb me. 

I'm thinking just now. 

About something not very important 

To you. 

Very necessary unimportant thinking. 

I need to be alone for awhile. 

I'm thinking. 

Would you please just vanish temporarily? 

There is a stranger in my body demanding to exit 

He wont' come out while you are here. 

He's naked. 

And very self-conscious. 

He needs to be alone with me. 

We need to be alone. 

My stranger and I want to sing. 

My stranger and I have secrets to tell. 

We need to talk dirty. 

We're thinking. 

Go away. 



26 



W«de«er 74 



Maria Mellinger 

I CAN PLUCK 

I can pluck 

Any action 

Out of the air, 

Tie it to a balloon string. 

And give it your name. 

With an ordinary 

Household pin. 

You can destroy it alL 

Holly Bruns 

FISHING THE UNKNOWN WATER 

I'm going fishing today. I'm going to attach a 
heavy sinker and throw the line out as far as I can and let 
£e hook drop down, down, down, until it hits the 
bottom. And I m going to wait. I'll wait as lone as I 
can stand it. I'm fishing for understanding. I'm fishing 
for maturity. I'm fishing for open-eyed, small-mouthed 
bus of empathy. I'll jerk my hook into whatever bites 
and I 11 keep it. I'm not throwing anything back today 

If understanding bites, I'll reel hum in as carefully 
as I can. I really want to understand who you are I 
want » understand who I am. Why do we always chafe 
each other until one of us bleeds? My healing abrasions 
don , heal so fast these days. The pleasure I once gained 
from scratching you eludes me now. I feel like I'm 
clawmg my own flesh. I want to stop, but I don't know 
now. I need some understanding. 

If maturity bites today, I'll have my smiling 
picture taken with this denizen of the deep blue water 
No matter how big or small, I'll be proud of this catch' 
Ive caught the devils before. Very tncky to reel in and 
*<* put up a hell of a fight! But if I can catch one of 
these today, it will be caught with you in m.nd 

If I throw my line in and catch a small-mouthed, 
open-eyed rainbow colored bit of empathy I might call it 
a day. Empathy fish thrive on understanding and 
maturity. If you catch empathy, you've really caught 
three fish m one. I'll be able to put myself in your 
shoes and understand how your really did g.ve it your 
best shoL I'll know what it's like having come from 
where you came from and got to where you are today 
U be mature enough to say, "Yes. you did your best and 
for that I thank you." God, I hope I catch an empathy 

If I don't catch anything and .t gets dark and cold 
and I get ured and hungry and frightened. I'll zip up my 
parka, turn on my flashlight and settle down in my boat 

(continued) 

Wmui. 1990-91 



Fishing the Unknown Water, continued 

with a peanut butter sandwich. I don't know how 
be frightened. It would be much less frightening 
came fishing with me. 

Maria Mellinger 

I WISH I COULD SWIM 

I wish I could swim 
Through the weirded depths 
I'm drowning in, 

Of Conch Shells and Can O' Beans, 
Electric eels and unplugged screams, 
A Bowie Knife strapped to my scuba gear 
I would cut a passage for you to hear 
My splashing. 

Linda Simmons 
SLUEFOOT 

Although I cried 

when you died 
I wonder what it 

must have felt like 
To live in that 

tired old body of yours 
Marked with age 

histories page 
Thou slow of pace 

it moved with grace 

As winter neared 

your time was here 
Your legs couldn't hold 

a body so old 
So you lay down to rest 

on a crisp autumn's next 
Never to rise 

though your body still tried 
I begged you to stay 

as you gave your last day 
My eyes filled with tears 

your memory's still here 



Wardens 74 



not to 
if you 



27 



JudyBelfieki 
STANDSTILL 

Traffic passes by 

driving westerly into a 

sunset-rouged horizon; 

wind bends branches 

newly greened. 

I have just finished dinner 

and a chapter of a book. 

I am alone 

watching through the window 

when suddenly 

a slow diffusion of melancholy 

begins in my stomach deep 

and spreads body, 

radiating. 

My breath stops. 

An allover pain wrings me tightly. 

"No," says one of my inside voices 

calmly, carefully, 

taking charge like an old nurse 

not showing emotion. 

I know this voice; it will not allow me 

to implode 

no matter what— 

I feel safe 

as though it were Mother's hand 

in the darkness. 

The radio, however, 

conspires with God, 

or Whatever — 

a music exquisitely sad 

trickles into the room 

creeps up 

suffocates me. 

Then stops abrupdy. 

I cannot dance this number. 

Not today. 

Maria Mellinger 

IT ALL SOUNDS 

It all sounds like a bad 

Country and Western song — 

You took a vacation 

From our love 

And the airport lost your luggage. 



Winter. 1990-91 



JeffDeGrave 

THERE ONCE WAS A LIMERICK TO BE 

There once was a limerick to be 
I guess to be created by me. 
Though I haven't a sight 
Of what I will write, 
I suppose I'll just wait and see... 

Maria Mellinger 

IN SILENT EMPTINESS 

In silent emptiness 

The coffin bird 

Flew; 

And though you'd left me long ago, 

Only now could I 

Leave you. 

Maria Mellinger 
YOU WRITE OF 

You write of 

The Soviet Kamchatka Peninsula; 

Mountains covered with snow. 

The air like razors on your skin, 

No one for thousands of miles all around. 

The area is desolate. 

All is quiet, 

Except for the roar of an occasional jet engine. 

I write of 

An empty hand, 

That used to hold your face, 

Touch the once-warm skin, 

No one but the two of us. 

The area is desolate. 

All is quiet, 

Except for the roar of an occasional tear falling. 

JeffDeGrave 
HAIKU FOR PSYCHICS 



««««»»»» 



28 



Wofdc«er74 



Connie Legters 
A SLEEP-TAPE 

Ears listen 

to rolling surf 

as gentle wind swirls by, 

and I am back 

upon hot, white beach 

of a scorching summer's day. 

Sun was King, 

and we, the subjects 

paying homage to brilliance 

with Coppertone cheeks. 

We raised our faces into the bum 

that we may be blessed with tan. 

Ocean's rhythm 

now flows in stereo 

to soothe my way to sleep. 

But I recall 

the salty breeze 

when I was young and had no fear, 

and the sandy-grit of a seaside kiss. 

Maria Mellinger 

I TOUCH THE FRECKLE 

I touch the freckle 
Above my lip, 
Imagining it to be 
A misplaced kiss, 
And not some 
Cruel trick of coloring 
That distracts you 
From my mouth. 

Carol Spinabella 

NOTORIOUS 

Being the first among my friends to receive my 
driver's license was an exhilarating experience,. My new 
status allowed our group to expand our horizons of 
freedom and we took full advantage of this newfound 
liberty. I soon learned though that this privilege had a 

(continued) 

Wim«. 1990-91 



Notorious, continued 

few disadvantages as well 

Three years ago, after having had my license for 
two months of carefree driving, three of my friends and I 
were on our way to my rich aunt's house to soak in her 
Jacuzzi. Eagerly, we set out. Decked in jacuzzi- 
appropriate attire, we had one thing on our minds: 
relaxation. 

After turning right off of Lemont ridge, I pulled 
onto a road and began to accelerate. The first speed sign 
that I noticed in the distance stated forty miles per hour. 
As soon as I reached forty-five miles per hour, I saw the 
ominous, red, flashing lights behind me, calling my 
name. 

"What do I do?" I pleaded to my friends. 

"Just pull over!" they retorted. Nervously, I did. 
As the officer strolled up to my window, my friends 
urgently advised me to generate some tears. Perhaps 
because I refused to stoop to such antics, I received a 
citation for driving forty-five miles per hour in a thirty 
miles per hour zone. As I sadly placed the citation in 
my wallet in the vacant space once occupied by my 
precious license, we all agreed that I obviously was the 
unknowing victim of a speed trap. However, I didn't 
know what true humiliation was until that evening. 

We decided to buy Mother's Day gifts at Jewel on 
our way to cruise the Riverwalk, a teen hangout in 
Naperville. Within minutes from our final destination, 
the now-familiar glaring red beacon invited me to the 
roadside once again. 

"What could I have done now?" I wailed to my 
astonished friends as the Naperville police officer 
sauntered to my window in deja-vu-tike fashion. Click! 
His penlight beamed into our worried eyes and scanned 
the Jewel bags on the floor of the car. 

I sheepishly offered my fresh, crisp citation upon 
his request for my driver's identification, feebly 
explaining that I had just received it earlier that day. 
After inquiring about the bags and being satisfied that 
the contents were not illegal contraband, he informed me 
that I had briefly edged over the center line on the last 
curve in the road. He then sent us away with a stern 
lecture on driving safety. 

To my dismay, my friends dubbed me "Citation 
Queen" from that moment on. I would like to be able to 
say that the title proved to be a misnomer. 
Unfortunatley, I must admit that I have managed to 
uphold that infamous title over the following three 
years, despite my continued attempts to be the model, 
law-abiding driver, perhaps the time has come to 
swallow my pride and try the suggested tear routine. 

29 
W«deaicr74 



Come to think of it, tears might not be all that difficult 
to produce if there should be yet one more next time. 

Maria Mellinger 

MY DOLPHIN 

My dolphin, lost to me, 

In ocean of suburbs. 

Flamingo conformity, 

Each yard with its plastic bird; 

A Japanese driftnet of security... 

Once so free, her fins 

Slicing the waves into 

Neat little packages of water. 

Deposited or exchanged for 

Independence... 

My dolphin, lost to me, 

Would rather be human 

And remove herself from our sea. 

Maria Mellinger 

NONSENSE FOR MR. LENNON, M.B.E. 

With apologies to John of ive 

And walrus of yonder tree, 

In poetry I duther gallup 

All alone just me. 

From my books I never stray 

Fro one or two or three. 

For neon, glitter, armor, sword; 

They're company for me. 

With a Pooh Bear whence to guide us 

And a honey pot sailing, we, 

Over bridge, brimey, swamp, and dyke, 

All alone I travel me. 

Blue meanie baddies 

Shout spittle spew un cree, 

But protected by a Bernie, 

They be safe from me. 

Eight, nine, and ten. 

One, two, and three, 

in poetry, I duther gallup 

All alone just me. 

Semolina Pilchard's tower in sight 

I float on yonder sea, 

With nothing in the head to say 

But the duther gallup in me. 



««««»»»» 



Winter. 1990-91 



Sailor 



THUNDER 



Days of thunder 
Nights of rain 
Full of wonder 
Laced with pain 

I said that I loved you 
You turned and walked away 
I reached out for you 
And you just thrust me away 

The clouds rolled in 
The rain poured down 
Was it really a sin? 
Or am I just a clown? 

Days of thunder 
Nights of rain 
Full of wonder 
Laced with pain 

I close my eyes 
So I can be with you 
Under the bluest of skies 
I make love to you 

I awake with a scream 
Covered with sweat 
Just another fading dream 
I'm hoping to forget 

Days of thunder 
Nights of rain 
Points to ponder 
With nothing to gain 

Days of thunder 
Nights of rain 
Full of wonder... 



Laced with pain 



««««»»»» 



Lora Baker 

A SEVEN YEAR OLD HERO 

My cousin Joey turned 20 on July 10th this year. 
Well, he would have, but he was killed when he was 7 



30 



Worde«ter74 



and I was five. He was the first friend and probably the 
closest I ever remember having. We had a very special 
bond between us. He seemed to know everything about 
me without even asking. He just understood. It was 
almost like we could communicate without talking. 

We'd play together and talk intensively about 
things that are important to five and seven year olds. 

"Where do lightning bugs come from, Joey?" I 
asked him once. 

"Well, they just sort of come out of light bulbs," 
he told me intelligently. I though he was so smart I 
really admired him. 

"I drove my dad's boat yesterday," he told me. 
"You drove your dad's boat? Wow!" I replied. 
What he didn't tell me was that it was on his father's lap 
with Uncle Tom helping him steer, but even if he would 
have told me, it wouldn't have mattered. 

I had visions of him cutting through 100 foot 
waves in a huge pirate ship, large gray sharks biting at 
the boat as he sailed by. I thought he could do anything. 
I really loved him. I even thought I'd marry him. The 
last time I ever saw Joey was two or three days before he 
was killed. He was spending the night because his 
parents were going out for the night. My mom gave us 
baths together and we played with plastic boats and 
"Barbie" dolls. He splashed water into my face so I 
splashed back, putting a large bubble of soap in his eye. 
He began to cry from the sting and I began to cry 
because I had hurt the one person I loved — really 
loved — besides my parents, brother and dog. My tears 
made him laugh. "Why are crying, dingbat. I'm not 
going to die or nothing, it's just soap!" 

That night I had a dream so bad and scary that I 
woke up crying. Joey sat next to me and held my hand. 
He told me whenever I have a bad dream to think of him 
and he'd come and chase it away. Even though he was 
only 2 years older, he was my hero. The next memory I 
have is climbing the steep narrow stairs to Aunt Sandy 
and Uncle Tom's apartment. I stood in the screened 
room on the slanted floor that made me feel dizzy while 
my mom and Aunt cried in each other's arms. "What's 
wrong?" I asked them, not really caring because all I 
wanted to do was go in and play with Joey. My Uncle 
Tom came out of the kitchen and sat me on his lap. He 
also had tears in his eyes. 

"Honey, Joey's going to be sleeping for a long, 
long time." 

"Well wake him up," I answered. 
"We can't, sweetheart. He's never going to wake 
up again." My young mind couldn't comprehend this. 

From what my mom told me later, Joey had been 
riding his "green machine," a large green big wheel with 

(continued) 

Winter, 1990-91 



T 



A Seven Year Ola Hero, continued 

sticks you work bade and forth to make it move, across 
the street No cars had been coming, but suddenly a 
drunk driver whipped around the comer and killed my 
cousin. 

My Aunt witnessed the whole scene from an 
upstairs window. In those few minutes, I lost the best 
friendship I'd ever have and she lost the only child she'd 
have. 

The reason I wrote about this is because I had an 
incredibly real and scary dream. What made me think of 
him, I don't know, but he came sailing in on his pirate 
ship and chased the dream away. Then he grinned and 
told me, "I'll always protect you." Even now, 13 years 
later, he's still my hero. 

Maria Mellinger 

I'M OBSESSED 

I'm obsessed with someone who's no longer alive — 

Obsessed like a teenager who cuts men out of magazines 

And surrounds herself in dreams; 

Obsessed like a midlife crisis in search of 

A person to attach itself to, 

Obsessed like a dying being 

Clutching at life 

But wondering what could be happening in death's 

apartment, 
Where you can hear the music through the walls 
But are never invited to once. 
I'm obsessed 

Because he never danced with me 
And we both heard the needle drop. 

Barbara Pillasch 

GHOSTS? 

My black cat Spooky sees things I don't see 

She stops midst her playing to stare, and then flee 

Looks over her shoulder as if at a ghost 

And I wonder to what unseen things I am host 

To take refuge under my bed is her wont 

I wonder just what she sees that I don't! 



Holly Bruns 

THE FINAL AUTUMN DAY 

Blackest limbs on grayest blue, 
A fine wet mist to mute the hue, 
A chilly breeze to make them sway, 
And blow the summer warmth away. 

A honking "V comes into view, 
Bidding northern climes adieu. 
Soggy leaves on wet ground lay, 
Brilliant spectrums face away. 

Old Man Winter takes his cue; 
Frost will now replace the dew, 
And blue transform to grayest gray, 
Embrace this final autumn day. 

Maria Mellinger 

YOU THROW THINGS 

You throw things at her. 

Taunt her. 

And she doesn't move. 

"Just ignore them..." 

Just like my mother told me... 

Do you recognize yourself in this situation? 

What did it feel like to be on their side? 

Did your mothers give you advice, too? 

"Aim high with objects, 

Hit low with words..." 

Or did they say 

"Just ignore her. She's different" 

And you thought. 

No, 

We have to hurt her. 

Taunt her. 

And see if she moves, Mom, 

We have to. 

Shannon Greenwalt 
UNTITLED 



««««»»»» 



Wordeater74 



It was late as I drove home from night class; the 
windows were open and the radio was playing. After 
3i (continued) 

Wuuei. 1990-91 



Untitled. aimed 



n 



stealing a glance at the fuel gauge, I decided I'd better 
stop for gas. 

As I pulled into the gas station, flashbacks of the 
film that I'd seen in psych class were running through 
my mind. The one point in the film that really got to 
me was the fact the emotionally and mentally disturbed 
people in this film seemed completely normal until 
provoked. The scary part was you could never tell what 
would provoke them. So with that in my mind I 
proceeded to pull up to the gas pump and climb from my 
car. 

While climbing from my far, I noticed that except 
for myself and the attendant, an elderly man who looked 
as though he should have retired years ago, the place was 
deserted 

I proceeded to pump gas into my car, the images 
of the disturbed people I'd seen still running through my 
mind. When the amount on the pump reached my limit 
I replaced the nozzle onto the pump and put the cap back 
on my tank. As I began to walk around the back of my 
car, another car pulled in behind me. The car sounded as 
if it were on its last cylinder and the body didn't appear 
to be in much better shape. As I reached into my car for 
my purse, I decided to sneak a glance at the other driver. 
As I took in the other driver's appearance, an eerie 
feeling began creeping up my spine. 

The other driver was a young man, around 
nineteen or twenty, and was rather large in build. He had 
a bandanna wrapped around his head like a bandage. He 
wore a flannel shin and faded blue jeans; both looked as 
though they had seen better times. Even his sneakers 
looked as though they'd been worn since the turn of the 
millennium. And the look on his face seemed to say 
that he was just looking for trouble. By this time, that 
eerie feeling that had started earlier started creeping up 
my spine had now reached the back of my neck and was 
breathing heavily. 

Without even really thinking, I began to roll up 
the windows and lock all the doors on my car before 
going in to pay for the gas. I quickly paid the attendant 
all the while visions of the next day's headline flashed 
through my mind: GIRL DIES AT HANDS OF TEEN 
PSYCHO IN DESERTED GAS STATION. I laughed 
to myself thinking I must be more tired than I thought 
I collected my change from the attendant and started for 
the door. My eyes focused on nothing in particular. 

As I reached to open the door it opened and to my 
surprise, standing on the other side and holding the door 
for me was the stranger. I managed to hide my surprise 
with a smile and muttered, "Thank you." The stranger 

32 
Wonfe>ur74 



replied with a smile and a nod of his head. 

I returned to my car and the eerie feeling had gone, 
but it had been replaced with a feeling of foolishness. I 
couldn't believe that I'd let my imagination run so wild. 
I stole another glance at the stranger behind me, and 
wondered what his reaction would be if he knew what I'd 
been thinking. I didn't wonder long. 

The stranger had caught me looking at him. With 
an amused smile and a wink of an eye, he was off in his 
car. 

Carol Spinabella 

MINE 

I love to look into your big amber eyes 

and hold your warm body close to mine. 

I love how you always listen to my problems 

and comfort me when I'm feeling low or unsure of 

myself. 
I love to walk with you on sunny days 
and lay with you on cool nights. 
I love to run my fingers through your thick, black hair 
and massage your neck. 
I love cuddling with you 
and the special way you lick my ear. 
I love you because you are absolutely the greatest 
dog a girl could ever have. 

Maria Mellinger 

AFRAID 

Afraid of what 

My dreams might say 

If I gave them a chance to speak, 

I shivered 

Under layers of insomnia 

And made a song 

Of the sound of 

My eyelashes 

Brushing the pillow case. 

Winter, 1990-91 



Jeff DeGrave Maria Mellinger 

YOU HAVE BECOME THE HEARTBEAT IN THE EARLY MORNING HOURS 

^■% In the early morning hours 

The household cat is King 
jjf* Of the backyard jungle, 

Stalking the wet grass for field mice 
J** Or a baby's lost toy. 

M I would honor this might beast, 

^lt(L i Born of our dying environment 

^f^jfUr A"* 1 tf^g by the rules he creates, 

If only I wasn't allergic. 



««««»»»» 



««*, 



4 **to»'£ JL Connie Legters 

^^^ *^ d/tfyA^ INTANGIBLE PROOF 

j ft jf& " Does he see me? 
. _-*iO\Jd> W* I No, really, does he? 

4 fl^PJ J I know he looks. 



but I'm not sure he sees. 



/4tV ij * * ^ him 

^* *'*£im/ a for what he is, 

^ y and love him 

^7 ^ffird^L no matter what his faults 

!7 Jjlf ^g^ be- 



We move 
in motions. 



if >^y kW**! ' and life perceives 

<Wi TV */*• •" ^ us smiling, speaking, 

T^ta^ 7- and just being. 



'»*•** # 



and just being. 

If I asked him, 
I would know — 
but I will not — 
Jf he must not see 



*t 



f 



the need for me to hear. 

Time presses on, 

and I wonder when he stares, 

if he sees me... 

really, does he? 

Carol Spinabella 
THE AWAKENING 



Wordeiter74 



*"**£ My mom had left a message on my answering 

^£M* machine asking if I would stop over at Grandmother's 

$ 33 (continued) 

5r\ Winter, 1990-91 



The Awakening, continued 

house to look for her antique china set She said that it 
was packed away somewhere in the attic. I had plans 
with Gary that night so I called and asked him to meet 
me there later. 

The house was vacant now. Grandmother had died 
three months before and Grandpa had died shortly after 
her. Some people believe he died from a broken 
heart.and I am one of those people. 

As I entered the house, warm, stagnant air 
replaced the once-present aromas of food simmering on 
the stove, fresh-cut flowers, and numerous cleaning 
agents. ..smells I grew up associating with my 
grandparents' house. I quickly strode to the back of the 
house and tugged at the resistant door at the bottom of 
the attic stairs until it finally yielded. As I ascended the 
narrow, cobwebbed stairway, the air became increasingly 
stuffy. Once I topped the stairs, I viewed the large attic 
before me. I could barely breathe the suffocating air. 

Immediately, I headed for a stack of boxes that 
appeared newer than the rest of the old items stored in 
the attic. On top of the box marked, "China Set," was a 
box labeled "Wedding Gown." Out of curiosity, I opened 
that one first I pulled out the carefully-folded off-white 
dress. It was very lacy, yet simple. "How beautiful!" I 
gasped. I held the dress up to me and stood in front of 
the full-length mirror, which was just a few steps away. 
The mirror had a thick coat of dust all over it I tried to 
rush enough away with my hand to see myself. "Will I 
ever get married?" I asked my reflection. "I wish I knew 
if Gary really loved me. He does many things for me, 
like fix my car, cook for me, run errands for me, 
buL..no dozens of roses, no candle-lit dinners. I've been 
with him for over a year now and...God, this dress is 
pretty! I wonder how Grandmother knew that Grandpa 
loved her." When I had asked her once, she had said, "I 
can't explain it I just knew." 

As I again reflected upon her obscure answer, I 
touched the mirror with my fingertips and suddenly 
found myself falling limply to the floor. My head was 
spinning and my vision was blurry. I looked up at the 
mirror to see a dark figure walking slowly toward me 
from within, extending its hand. Then everything went 
black. Silence engulfed me. Finally, I heard a young 
man's voice echoing in the distance, "Claudia, time to 
get up. I made your breakfast" I opened my eyes to 
find myself lying in a bed with white morning light 
streaming through the lace curtains. The young man 
approached the side of the bed. It was my grandpa! He 
couldn't have been more than twenty-five years old! 
"Why did he call me Claudia, my grandmother's name?" 

34 
Worde«ter 74 



But before I could even start to ponder this mystery, my 
head began to spin and I was again in blackness. 

My grandpa's voice again penetrated the silence. 
"See, I didn't forget that our anniversary is today." I 
opened my eyes to see my grandpa awkwardly extending 
his arm toward me, a small red velvet box in his hand. 
"Here. Happy 20th Anniversary, Claudia," he addressed 
me. I accepted the tiny box and opened it Inside was a 
beautiful heart-shaped pendant hanging from an 
extremely thin chain. "It opens," he meekly offered. 
Inside the pendant were two miniature pictures — one of 
my grandmother and one of himself. They were both in 
their wedding attire. "I hope you like it," he hesitandy 
added as he fastened the tiny clasp behind my neck. As I 
noticed a self-conscious flush beginning to spread across 
his face, I was transported again into darkness. 

Once again. Grandpa's voice greeted me. "The 
car's ail warmed up now. Are you ready for church? 
Don't forget your scarf. There's a nippy wind outside." 
I opened my eyes to Grandpa, now considerably aged. 
He shuffled ahead to open the door for me. His gait was 
slow, but steady. As he held the door for me, I noticed 
that the wrinkles in his face were beginning to deepen. 
his image then faded slowly into blackness. 

Beep...Beep...Beep...Soon I could see that the 
high-pitched beeping sound was coming from a heart 
monitor in a hospital room. I was lying in the bed and 
Grandpa was sitting close beside me on a chair. 
Silently, he held my hand. His back was now slightly 
stooped. His grasp grew firmer as the perspiration 
accumulated on his face. He gendy patted my forehead 
with a damp towel as tears welled up in his eyes. His 
lips trembled, but he didn't speak. 

Suddenly, a loud, buzzing ring startled me. My 
eyes shot open. My mind began to register the familiar 
surroundings of Grandmother's attic. I realized that I 
was still clutching Grandmother's wedding dress. Then 
that same buzzing ring startled me again. It was the 
doorbell, I realized. I remembered about Gary. 

I raced down the attic stairs, swung open the front 
door, and there was Gary, greeting me with a big smile. 
"Where's that china box? I'll carry it out for you," he 
offered. "Wow, that's pretty. I never saw you wear that 
before," Gary exclaimed. 

'This old shirt?" I began. 
"No, that necklace," he replied. 
My hand reached up to my neck to discover the 
heart-shaped pendant. Without answering him, I 
enthusiastically threw my arms around him. 

I'm sure that he wondered what had gotten into 
me. Some things just can't be explained. 



««««»»»» 



Winter. 1990-91 



Maria Mellingcr 
THEODORA 

For a minute 

I'm back in 1975, maybe, 

When my teddy bear 

Was new and alive, 

The most prized possession 

Next to my "Sock it to Me" shirt 

And a real plastic stove 

That could melt M & M's 

With its lightbulb range. 

Grandma said teddy should 

Wear overalls, 

Like real bears do, 

But Teddy's a girl 

And I can't wait for weekly trips 

To Circus World toy stores 

For new dresses 

And booties 

To present to her. 

At this age 

It's okay 

To love your bear more than 

Mom and Dad; 

To hold her through the night 

And still hit little brother on 

The top of the head 

With her sizable body. 

I can take her with me 
Wherever the world tells me 
I must go; 

Mom snaps her into my seat belt 
With an annoyed click. 
"Security blanket," 
she thinks. 
"She'll outgrow it" 

For a minute 

I'm in that world. 

Then the alarm goes off 

And Teddy rolls out of my arms 

Onto the floor. 

I have to step over her 

And get dressed 

Like an adult 

Worde»t«74 



Maria Mellinger 

I MET THIS BOY 

I met this boy 

In my poems last night. 

Never learned his name, 

But I loved him all the same. 

We could talk about anything. 

We could do anything. 

I think we did do "anything." 

I wanted to stay with him, 

But I'm not in anybody's poems. 

And so I came back into the world, 

Off my pages, 

And remained alone. 

Barbara Pillasch 
HAIKU 

October preens and 
pirouettes in her golden 
gown of autumn fire 

October's falling 

at my feet — stricken down by 

autumn's golden want 

Maria Mellinger 

SIXTEEN CANDLES + FOUR 

Sixteen candles + four 

Were on my last birthday cake, 

And still 

I find myself 

Nervous, 

Giggly, 

And in great pain 

Each time you glance at me. 

I don't think I ever 

Want to grow up. 



35 



Winter. 1990-91 



anie Legters 



Barbara Pillasch 



A BLUE-SILK GRAVE 



I watched his hair — 
each strand a silken thread — 
fall as in slow motion 
over a furrowed brow. 
His displeasure 
made me squirm, 
considering rash reason 
of his concern. 

I never thought to lose 
the bonding band of gold 
that sunk downward 
through the chlorine pool. 
Smarting eyes did burn 
into silver-shine, 
but failed to retrieve the prize. 

We faced the chasm 

of silence 

molded to the scene, 

faces turned away, 

feelings raw as a silk screen. 

Then he laughed, 

a masculine, uncaring splash, 

and said it was just a ring. 

He bought one new 
without vows, 
and placed it upon a finger 
of the one he loves. 
We smiled at ease 
of the problem solved. 
But-ah, that worn ring 
did so quickly fall ... 

Sometimes, 

I wonder about promises 

exchanged, 

and if chlorine might ruin 

finish of the golden shine 

sunk in blue-silk waters, 

there entombed 

with time. 



STAND-IN 

As I went down this morning to feed them, I 
could still hear old Les saying, "You still feedin' them 
ducks for me?" That was the last thing he ever said to 
me. He'd raised his head, which had been slumped on 
his shoulder, and opened one eye. 

He was crumpled in his favorite chair, which was 
big and battered and lumpy— and probably as old as he 
was. It sat by the window overlooking his beloved 
Kankakee River. From there he could see "his" ducks 
and other creatures that wandered along the bank and fed 
on the cracked corn he used to throw out for them each 
morning. 

He'd been in that chair since he'd come home 
from the hospital. He was shriveled and shrunken, arms 
and legs akimbo as though someone had carelessly 
tossed him there. Yet he was alert as a bird sometimes, 
and stubborn as my dog, Annie. Wouldn't let anyone put 
him t bed. Yelled and cussed when they tried. "Let me 
be!" he'd yell. They let him be. 

The shades were drawn, that last time I visited old 
Les. The hot afternoon sun oozed around the edges and 
crept lazily along the floor and part way up his bare leg 
where his p.j.'s had hitched up. The skin there was a 
bilious yellow and the flesh on the hand I had felt like a 
dried-up mushroom. Behind one of the shades, the 
frustrated buzz of a trapped fly seemed magnified in the 
somnolent air, which was thick as old grease and smelled 
of Lysol and waiting. 

Bun said, "He won't eat. Hasn't eaten for days." 
I looked at old Les, listening to us behind his closed 
eyes and thought. You old fox. He was soil running the 
show. That was when he raised his head, opened one eye 
and said, "You still feedin' them ducks for me?" 

That was day before yesterday. He died yesterday 
in the early a.m. in his battered old chair by the 
window— overlooking the Kankakee River. "Died in his 
sleep," Bun said. He was eighty-six. 

As I fed the ducks, I noticed the corn-cob impaled 
on its spike in the oak tree— a treat for the squirrels that 
old Les had faithfully replaced with a fresh ear of com 
every day of the world since who knows how long before 
I moved here. Today I replaced it. 



Wordeater74 



36 



Wuuc. 1990-91 



Maria Mellinger 
FOR JERRY, ANDY, AND ME 

Happy hour. 

What an ironic name for the time slot 

In which thousands of unsuspecting 

Brain cells are slaughtered daily. 

It's like hunting, I guess; 

Shotgun, shotglass — 

What's the difference? 

Little neuron foxes falling prey 

To one-hundred-proof hounds and 

The hangover in trophy, 

Mounted fuzzy-faced in tomorrow morning's mirror. 

Have a happy hour, brother, 

You won't remember the night. 

I'm on my way to alcoholism and 

It's all so Hemingwayesque. 

Barbara Pillasch 
A CONVENING 

There is a riot outside my window. I glance out 
in time to see a noisy cloud settle like a dark shroud 
upon a nearby tree. The riot continues as large chunky 
neckless bodies perch and preen, their ebony-hued 
feathers flashing in brilliant shards of blue and green 
iridescence in the sunlight Perhaps a hundred crows 
sling to the branches with scaly claws— a chorus of 
black-clad biddies. They argue, visit, gossip, their 
glittering diamond eyes darting — furtive and sly, bold 
and curious. As they caw excitedly, an occasional 
gleeful cackle rises above the cacophony as though in 
response to some hilarious joke. On and on they 
socialize, small-brained and dumb, with no thought of 
tomorrow or memory of yesterday. No plan, no worries. 

As I peer from the window I have caught the 
attention of one of these enormous birds, who stares at 
me with beady unblinking eye, and we contemplate one 
another for a moment Soon, he loses interest and looks 
away. Suddenly, in total, inexplicable agreement, the 
hyper, undulating crowd rises as one, again a dusky 
airborne riot, moving off (with eyes peeled along the 
way, no doubt, for a tasty morsel of carrion as refresh- 
ment) to engulf another distant tree and continue the 
party. 



Maria Mellinger 
I WOULD TALK TO YOU 

I would talk to you 

But your silence intimidates me. 

It wraps you in the cure-all to conversation, 

Protects you from people the rest of us run from. 

Hides you deep inside your own mystery. 

It makes me envy you, 

Because I feel the need to talk 

To prove I exist 

The things I do aren't real 

Unless everyone hears about them. 

Privacy is a room I'm afraid to lock myself into; 

I talk circles in an auditorium instead. 

I would talk to you. 

But I wait for you to come to me. 

To show me the way to silence. 

To hold my hand through the quiet paths, 

And to kiss me like a cat waking its master 

With one flick of the tongue in the absence of sound. 

Maria Mellinger 

I CAN REMEMBER 

I can remember when images of 
My own death collected about me 
Like flies. Now someone else had died. 
And his images are buzzing 
Throughout funeral homes and fantasies, 
Landing on every surface I turn to, 
Leaving dirty little tracks 
So much harder to clean up 
Than suicidal one shots. 



** 



««««»»»» 



I NEED TO SEE YOU AGAIN 

I need to see you gain because I 

Can't understand these sudden bursts 

Of love 

In phone calls, letters, and photos. 

I need 24 hours of 

Subtlety. 



37 



Wordeater74 



Winter. 1990-91 



N dlinger 

LEAD OURSELF 



Lead yourself 

Out of your knowledge 

And accept my ideas. 

Accept me. 

Into your arms. 



** 



EVEN THE QUIETEST 



Even the Quietest 
Animal in the Forest 
Has a voice 
With which to whisper 



««««»»»» 



JeffDeGrave 
ECHO CANYON HAIKU 



Hellohello...is... 

is. .. therethere.. .any oneone... 

outouL..theretherethere... 

Maria Mellinger 

BECAUSE I'M IN THE HABIT 

Because I'm in the habit 

Of studying my shoes 

And avoiding eyes, 

I have noticed you 

Sitting next to me 

(Or rather, noticed your feet)'. 

I can almost glance all the way 

Up to your knee. 

But all else is taboo. 

I keep hoping you'll bend 

To tie your shoe 

And I'll get a look at your eyes 

To see if you notice me, too. 



WordeaU3r74 



Barbara Pillasch 

THE RAIN FELL INCESSANTLY 

The man stared at the sight before him 
As though awaking from a dream 
Saw sundry souls with eyes gone dim 
And heard a hungry baby scream. 

And heard a hungry baby scream 
Wet and ragged in the cold 
Souls caught in the streetlight's beam 
Begging boldly, young and old. 

Begging boldly, young and old 

Mercilessly begging aid 

Wet and ragged in the cold 

The man looked down and was afraid. 

The man looked down and was afraid 
Loathe to hear the baby scream 
And beggars begging for aid: 
Refused to waken from his dream. 

Refused to waken from his dream 
He could not see, he would not see 
He dared not hear the baby scream 
The rain — it fell incessandy. 

Maria Mellinger 

I TRANSFORM MYSELF 

I transform myself 

Into an elegant young woman 

Entering the circus freak show 

Because, at least, 

People don't pay 

To see my imperfections. 

JeffDeGrave 

THE JAPS 

The Japs couldn't have 
developed haikus! They all 
write vertically. 



38 



««««»>►»>► 



Winter, 1990-91 




fRANCCS ALWAYS ENJOYS A HAPPY ENDING.